Monday, September 28, 2009

It's economic report card time again...

It was time for yet another episode of Steve's Dog & Pony Show today:

Speaking at the Southern Railway, Mechanical Shop & Administration Office, Harper used the announcement of his economic update to say that trying to force an "unnecessary and wasteful election in the middle of a global recession is not in the country's interests."

That's right, peasants. Only Steve is allowed to break his own election law to call unnecessary and wasteful elections during a recession. We should all know that by now.

Apparently unwilling to wait for the upcoming "fruit" that Action Plan Steve is waiting to harvest, Ignatieff huffed and puffed and threatened to blow the house down - again. But that won't be happening any time soon.

As expected, a loud yawn was heard all across the country.

Dogs, ponies, fruit... all in a day's work in Ottawa.

Coderre Steps Down

Denis Coderre has stepped down as Ignatieff's Quebec lieutenant.

The controversy, according to CTV's Robert Fife:

The rift between Ignatieff and Coderre broke open last week over who should be nominated as the Liberal candidate in the Montreal riding of Outremont.

Former justice minister Martin Cauchon, who left politics in 2004, has signalled his intention to return to Parliament Hill and reclaim the riding he held for 11 years.

However, Ignatieff announced last Monday that he would appoint businesswoman Nathalie Le Prohon, who was selected by Coderre, as the Liberal candidate in Outremont,

The decision seemed to end Cauchon's hopes of a political comeback, but Coderre announced later in the week that another riding would be offered to Cauchon.

Meanwhile, a number of Liberal MPs, including Bob Rae, rallied around Cauchon in his bid for Outremont.

By the end of the week, Ignatieff had reversed his own decision about Outremont to allow for an open nomination contest in the riding.

"We do know that Mr. Coderre has been very angry at Michael Ignatieff, who overruled him -- had first supported him when he said that Mr. Cauchon could not run for the Liberal party in Outremont -- and then changed his mind and then supported (Cauchon)," Fife said. "So over the weekend, Mr. Coderre...has been mulling over his plans."

According to Fife, Cauchon would likely emerge as a rival to Coderre to replace Ignatieff in a future Liberal leadership contest.

But an immediate concern, Fife said, is that should Coderre step down, the move would cause turmoil "and perhaps open warfare in the Liberal Party."

"In the long-term here, nobody in this country who wants to lead a party can win if he can't control his own party," Fife told CTV News Channel. "Voters don't elect people who can't run their own party. More important than that, this is happening in Quebec, where the Liberal Party needs to win seats if they are going to have any chance of beating the Conservatives and forming a minority government."

The riding was a onetime Liberal stronghold until New Democrat Thomas Mulcair grabbed the seat in a 2007 by-election upset victory.

During his press conference today, Coderre stated that he felt he had lost the "moral authority" to do his job. He has not resigned as MP.

If there's one thing that you can count on with the Liberal party, it's the fact that eventually the circular firing squad will go very public with the injured then licking their various wounds in front of the microphones.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Where's the fight?

Bill Moyers' interview of guests Michael Zweig and Bill Fletcher Jr., who spoke about the current state of unions in America, touched on themes that I discussed earlier this week with someone online who had previously been a paid "netroots" organizer for single-payer style reform to the US health care system. She's now pushing for the so-called "public option". She and others have given up the fight for single-payer because they believe this public option (however it's defined and despite the fact that Obama has called it just a "sliver" of his health care plan) is the best they can get - if they can even get that.

I pushed back.

I asked what would have happened if Rosa Parks had decided on that fateful day to just sit in the middle of the bus - believing that was what she still deserved because to fight for real rights would have been too much of a struggle.

Crickets chirped in response.

The union fight throughout the last century in America parallels, politically, what's happened to the now much-aligned left in this health care reform debate.

BILL MOYERS: Those conservative protestors we saw are not afraid of confrontation. They're willing to use sharp elbows and brass knuckles in fighting for what they believe in. Why isn't labor more confrontational in behalf of those very people, the working people of this country?

BILL FLETCHER: Well, part of it is that there's I know people won't appreciate my saying this. But among many of the leaders, there's really a fear of losing respectability. I mean, you have leaders that have now gained these positions and they're really afraid that if they shake the table too much, that they will be excluded.

MICHAEL ZWEIG: What has happened is that the corporations and the corporate elite have structured what this country is, what's valuable, what's important, how we organize our lives. And labor has not come forth with an alternative set of values.

BILL MOYERS: But why haven't they? Now, that's

MICHAEL ZWEIG: Well, there I think because we used to have that. And all the labor movement did have that.

BILL MOYERS: Solidarity forever, right?

MICHAEL ZWEIG: Well, and the labor movement had a very militant, very aggressive stance in the '30s, '40s, '50s that challenged capital. That got tremendous benefits. You know, the labor movement is the people who gave us the weekend. Let's not forget. The labor movement is what…

BILL MOYERS: The eight hour day.

MICHAEL ZWEIG: Got us the eight hour day, and the social security, and all the other things that we think are so very important, but are just natural. That came out of a labor movement, but a labor movement that was led by people and was fueled by people who understood that there was antagonism. That there was a battle that they were involved in. This was not just, 'Let's sit down and have lunch and figure out what's the best thing to do for America.' This was, 'Here's a group of people who run the country and run businesses. And they have a certain set of interests. And they do not have our interests at mind at heart. They are not for us.'

BILL MOYERS: For the working people.

MICHAEL ZWEIG: For the working people. We have to be organized and be a contrary force, a counterforce that's a real force. That isn't just a debating society. That doesn't just have resolutions that it passes.

BILL MOYERS: A real force to take on capital

MICHAEL ZWEIG: To take on capital.

BILL MOYERS: And power.


BILL MOYERS: And why have they lost that?

MICHAEL ZWEIG: Well, because they got crushed.


MICHAEL ZWEIG: Because the people who tried to do that. And the people who did do that were leftist. They were people who had a class analysis of society. Many of them were socialists and some of them were communists, but not all. But that sentiment, that understanding of the basic structure of society as divided by class interest. That there's a working class that's a majority of the population in this country. And they have interests. And they have a set of values that that convey those interests. That are very different from the corporations. They're very different from capital.

And if the people who held those views and mobilized the labor movement at an earlier point in our history. Those people were pushed out. And they were pushed out by the labor movement, internally, because there was great division and splits. And so then the labor movement got drawn into an era of cooperation. An era of, "Well, let's all sit down. And we'll all be reasonable. We'll all figure out what to do that's best for America." And it turns out America is not one thing. America is divided by these deep class antagonisms that we are now living with.

The AFL CIO, by the way, voted to support single payer last week.

But Democrats and their so-called "progressive" online members and supporters of the party have managed to accomplish, systematically - by buying into the decades-long demonization of "liberals" and "the left" by the corporate right - the wholesale abandonment of their golden opportunity for real change in their health care system. Even Obama dismissed the "fringe" elements of the left because he wants to be that "reasonable" man who appeals to all. He only has to read a newspaper to see that that idea has already failed.

This new "progressive" (conservative), fear-based American left has lost its fighting spirit.

Zweig and Fletcher explained how that's affected the union movement as well:

BILL FLETCHER: Well, first of all, I think that the election of Richard Trumka has a great deal of potential. Because

BILL MOYERS: The new president of the AFL-CIO.

BILL FLETCHER: The new president of the


BILL FLETCHER: Because Trumka comes out of a history of militancy. He you know, in terms of his vision of the United Mine Workers that he led. His emphasis on organizing. His clarity on the nature of the economic crisis that we've been facing. And what he has articulated so far. And all I can say, this is a hope, is the notion that we have to engage in that confrontation that you're describing.

We have to do much more massive organizing. Particularly of the poor, the increasingly poor sections of the working class. So, I think that there's a vision here. And I can't overstate this issue of vision. Because it's not simply the technique of unions putting resources into organizing. People have to feel compelled that there's a vision of success, but a vision of a different kind of country. And indeed, a different kind of world.

MICHAEL ZWEIG: It's also a different understanding of how you do politics and how you exert power. It's one thing to say, "I'm the leader of an organization of eight and a half million workers. I'm the head of the AFL-CIO. We have eight and a half million members in our affiliates." And I'm going to sit down at a table. And I'm going to say, "I have eight and a half million members out there." It's another thing to have eight and a half million members out there, who are in the streets, who are not just sending in letters and not just signing petitions. But who are actively engaged in exercising power, in building power in the streets, in the communities, in the schools.

BILL MOYERS: And we don't see that happening. Why? Why isn't that happening?

MICHAEL ZWEIG: But see, I think that Rich Trumka understands something about the need to do this. And we'll see where this goes now. But, you know, it's hard to change culture.


MICHAEL ZWEIG: It's hard to change the way we understand how things should happen.

Online Democrats are doing busy work - sending those letters and signing petitions while also contributing donations to politicians they think they can influence with their $5 or $10; politicians who've been raking in money for also standing up for this lowest-common denominator form of health care reform with enforced mandates resulting in fines which will only be a boon for already massive insurance companies. A public option that may have a trigger or the latest incarnation: a useless, regionally-based trial run.

Where are the left's health care reform protests? Surely they must be able to match the numbers that turned out for last week's right-wing tea party protests? One would think...

But as Zweig pointed out, it's hard to change culture. And the culture that permeates the majority of these online activists is one of timidity - the same posture embraced by their leader, president Obama.

They'll tell you that they'll be grateful to get whatever table scraps that come their way as a result of this battle and that later - sometime way later in the future, I guess, when the Democrats again control the white house, the house and the senate - then they'll push for more.

People are dying.

Just how much longer are they willing to wait?

This culture of self-imposed defeatism is at the root of despair for millions. Yet they call it "hope".

They'd be wise to learn from history: that when you push away the voices around you who demand the absolute best (those "fringe" dwellers), you cede a tremendous amount of ground to your adversaries that may well take you twice as long to get back. And you also find yourself living in a state of compromised principles that doesn't serve you or the ones you claim to fight for - regretting that you didn't try harder when you had the chance.

If we'd seen that kind of attitude in Canada during the 1960s, we never would have achieved universal health care. Tommy Douglas must be rolling over in his grave over this debacle currently going on in the United States. He knew that if you wanted reform, you made it happen. You changed the culture.

America needs a Tommy Douglas. But if he did materialize there today, the Democrats would just write him off as some fringe radical and go back to the table with their corporate overlords in the guise of doing what's "right".

Friday Fun: Bring Your Daughter to War Day

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Rahim Jaffer: Busted

So, former Con MP and husband of ever-annoying Helena Guergis - Minister of State for the Status of Women (what a joke that is) - Rahim Jaffer has been arrested for drunk driving and cocaine possession.

Don Martin:

He [Jaffer] was a charter member of the Snack Pack, six young Reform MPs with some growing up to do who patronized Ottawa restaurants and bars in the late 1990s, hungering for the day when their party could pry power away from the Liberals.

If the allegations are true, it seems Jaffer's choice of snacks should have been limited to Doritos™.

Once again, we're left asking, 'will the real Rahim Jaffer please stand up?'

Adam Radwanski:

Although evidently prone to spectacularly bad decisions, he always struck me as one of the more human of our parliamentarians. Younger MPs, in particular, tend to be an off-puttingly hyperpartisan and hyperambitious breed (see Poilievre, Pierre). Jaffer always seemed like a fairly normal guy who was a little surprised to be walking the chambers of power. The "would you want to have a beer with this guy" test has become a cliché, and it really shouldn't be the standard when you're choosing someone to run a country, but it's nice to have at least a few of our 308 federal representatives fit the bill. The fact that he was fully prepared to have a beer with people from other parties, not just his own, helped matters considerably.

Umm, Adam. The fact (allegedly) that he was fully prepared to have a beer and drive a car is the issue here.

'I'm not dead!' 'He will be soon.'

We may not have death panels in our scary Great White North socialized health care system, but we do offer very strong hints encouraging your impending demise.

Ottawa sends body bags to Manitoba reserves

Aboriginal leaders in Manitoba are horrified that some of the reserves hardest hit by swine flu in the spring have received dozens of body bags from Health Canada.

The body bags — which were sent to the remote northern reserves of Wasagamack and God's River First Nation — came in a shipment of hand sanitizers and face masks.

Grand Chief David Harper, who represents northern First Nations, says body bags send the wrong message and no one can understand why Ottawa would do such a thing.

"It really makes me wonder if health officials know something we don't," he said. "I have a right to speak for my people. I make a plea to the people of Canada to work with us to ensure the lowest fatalities from this monster virus. Don't send us body bags. Help us organize; send us medicine."

Now where have I seen this before....?

Oh, yes...


"Is the body bags a statement from Canada that we as First Nations are on our own?" Wasagamack Chief Jerry Knott asked. He said his community's nursing station received about 30 body bags.

Knott flew to Winnipeg with the bags on Wednesday and took them to the Health Canada building on York Avenue.

The office was closed at the time, so he stacked the bags on the doorstep and marked them "return to sender."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Write Your Own Caption

This is my photo op, damnit. Will you STFU already?


Harper's in bed with socialists and separatists - again

Steve, last week: the candid speech given to party members in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. last week, the prime minister repeatedly stressed his aspiration to win a majority.

He warned that, without one, the country would get a Liberal government propped up by "the socialists and the separatists."

Steve, this week:

OTTAWA — The New Democratic Party will join the Bloc Quebecois in supporting the minority Conservative government in Friday's confidence vote.

Red herring alert!

NDP deputy leader Thomas Mulcair announced the decision Wednesday following a caucus meeting.

He told reporters it would be "irresponsible" not to support the ways and means motion, which is a confidence vote, because of the home renovation tax credit that it contains.

Ignatieff has already stated that the Liberals would make sure that if they won the next election they would preserve the tax credit.

"Mr. Harper is trying to scare Canadians with the thought that we would jeopardize the home renovation tax credit," Ignatieff said on Friday. "That’s completely false, and he knows it."

“We supported the home renovation tax credit before. Our problem is we just don’t support the government any more. But home renovation tax credit is a good measure, and it would continue under a Liberal government."

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wars are like cars...except with a "W"...

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama ordered 21,000 more troops to Afghanistan, which will bring the total number of U.S. forces there to 68,000 by the end of the year.

McChrystal is expected to ask for more troops soon, but would not elaborate on numbers Friday.

"My position here is a little bit like a mechanic. We've got a situation with a vehicle and I've been asked to look at it and tell the owner what the situation is and what it will cost to make the vehicle run correctly and I will provide that," he said.

"Now I understand that the vehicle owner then has to make a decision on what the car is worth, how much longer he intends to drive it," he added. "Whether he wants it to look good or just run."

He should have traded it in during the Cash for Clunkers program.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Stephen Colbert: Premier of "Colberta"?

We are absolutely desperate for political change here in Alberta. ("We" being those of us in touch with reality). And Torontonian (gasp!) Dan Zinman is spearheading the campaign to rename our province "Colberta", making Stephen (The Fighting Stephen!) Colbert our new quasi-premier.

In the world according to, it would be out with Ed Stelmach, Norman Kwong and all things French (Leduc would become The Duc), and in with Stephen Colbert, he of Comedy Central faux-Fox News fame, who would become a kind of non-aligned provincial leader for life.

“It is time for The Colbert Nation to rise up and request . . . no, demand, that the province of Alberta be turned over to the leadership of Colbert, who can rule the new state of Colberta with an iron fist, an unyielding gut, and balls of steel,” says the website, which also includes a number of Colb-mandments (Article Five: “Nickelback has got to go. We hear Saskatchewan [boring correction: "Manitoba" -catnip] may be interested.”)

I, for one, would welcome our new comedic overlord - although I would keep our Frenchiness as I'm sure Colbert (silent "t") would too. (Plus, being French myself, I might be deported. I hear Belize is nice though...)

He is holding off on contacting Colbert himself until he has some actual Albertans behind his scheme. You see, there’s one catch: Zinman is from Toronto. He has never actually been to Alberta.

I'll forgive him for that last fact. Anybody with half a brain anywhere knows that we have been awash in faux, so-called "Progressive" Conservative muck for far too long - unlike the real brand of conservatism Colbert would restore.

Today, Colberta. Tomorrow, Colbanada! Watch out Stephen Harper.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Video: Harper Busted Privately Using the "M" Word

CBC's Terry Milewski reports:

He even snubbed the right-wing press when they brought up the "M" word recently:

Harper and other Conservatives have, by and large, been reluctant for the last four years to speak publicly about the possibility of a majority Conservative government for fear it might alienate "soft" supporters who would drift back to another party.

Indeed, when Canwest News Service asked Harper in mid-August how he intended to win a majority government, he would not answer the question, saying only that he did not want an election. our political scandals aren't quite as fun as the yanks' but, hey, we're Canadians. We'll take what we can get!

Video: Obama Heckled by Congressman During Speech

In response to Obama saying that "the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those here illegally", Republican congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina shouted "You lie!".

After being smacked about by Repub Dem Whip Clyburn (among others), Wilson issued the standard apology.

Oh, the drama they have down there in South Carolina! Is it something in the water??

Clyburn said the episode was as disgraceful -- if not more -- as Gov. Mark Sanford's revelation that he traveled to Argentina to conduct an extramarital affair when state officials believed he was on vacation in the nearby Appalachian Mountains.

"I thought he [the governor] had embarrassed us as much as we could be embarrassed. But to have a congressman use the floor of the House of Representatives in a joint session to insult the president the way Joe Wilson did is as embarrassing as anything anyone could think of," House Majority Whip James E.Clyburn, D-S.C., said. "Our state can do without this."


Quite the discussion going on behind the scenes at Wiki after Wilson's page was repeatedly edited after he made the remark. Further unofficial editing of his bio has now been "disabled due to vandalism".

I'll see your crazy...

...and raise you twice as much.

Remember this?

Obama's finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don't even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I've heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence.

- Ezra Klein, January 2008

These days, Klein is reduced to fighting back against cries comparing Obama to Hitler by examining actual Nazi-style health care.

And then there was this:

"I give all praise and honor to God," Obama began. "Look at the day the Lord has made."

Obama's wife, Michelle, opened the rally with a description of her husband that could, at moments, have been a description of Jesus Christ.

"We need a leader who's going to touch our souls. Who's going to make us feel differently about one another. Who's going to remind us that we are one another’s keepers. That we are only as strong as the weakest among us," she said, echoing biblical passages.

Winfrey also touched on Christian themes that had not been highlighted in Iowa.

"It's amazing grace that brought me here," she began, adding that she was "stepping out of my pew" - television – to engage in politics.

It isn't enough to tell the truth, Winfrey said. "We need politicians who know how to be the truth."

- Politico, November, 2007

When you decide to engage in a high-stakes poker game called My Saviour is Better Than Your Saviour, expect blowback.

Does this excuse the right-wing extremism that's been going on? No.

Does it (at least partially) explain it? Yes.

The Obama administration has been busy throwing everybody and his dog - including his so-called progressive base - under the bus for years yet his staunch followers blog about how they will bow to his genius, how they cry every time the man gives a speech, and how he can stop a child's cries. Oh. The weeping!

And then they wonder how some right-wingers have come to be so crazed?

Bush had his 30-percenters; people for whom he could do no wrong.

Obama has his too. And they're just as fanatical. They might not be packing heat and making death threats, but they're equally as out of touch with reality.

You expected "unity"? "Bi-partisanship"? "Post-partisanship"? Kumbaya with the Repubs accompanying the Dems on guitars, maybe? Really? Just because of who (you thought) Obama was?


The next time you're up for a game of real poker, give me a call.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Today is my 50th birthday

That's a lot of years...

I'm tired.

I think I'll eat some cheesecake and have a nap.


Friday, September 04, 2009

Let's Bomb Washington!

Oh wow. It's embarrassing to be a Canadian when news like this hits the stands:

Canada to stage mock Afghan attack in Washington

The Taliban will attack an Afghan village set up in the heart of Washington courtesy of the Canadian Forces, who will send in a medic in a dramatic effort to save a civilian crippled by the explosion.

At least four times over two days this month, simulated IED blasts will bring the Afghan war – and Canada's combat role in Kandahar – home to Americans if an elaborate scheme based on modern training realism attracts widespread attention, as is hoped.

“If this works the way I want it to, more Americans will know what Canada is doing in Afghanistan,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Douglas Martin, a military attaché at the Canadian embassy.

Yeeha! Eh?

Between scheduled IED attacks at noon and 2 p.m. on Sept. 23, the first day of the conference, there will be an Afghan luncheon hosted by Kabul's envoy to Washington, Ambassador Said Jawad.

A division of Lockheed Martin [double check that bill when they're done. -catnip] that specializes in combat-training simulations will construct the mock village of three buildings and a mini-souk and provide the role-players – Afghan actors who will play the defenceless civilians [because they're running out of real defenceless civilians -catnip]. Strategic Operations Inc., a California company that claims to bring the “magic of Hollywood” to hyper-realistic training, will provide the pyrotechnics for the IED explosions.

Not to be outdone, the US military announced that it will host the following activities:

1. Hide and Seek: Find our secret torture prisons!
2. Whack-an-Afghani civilian: man your own drone and be home in time for supper.
3. Dress Hamid Karzai.
4. Pin the tail on the mass grave sites.

And for those nostalgia buffs who want to harken back to the Pentagon's glory days, there will be an extra-special demonstration:

5. How we napalmed Vietnam!
(Hazmat gear provided. Child volunteers needed.)

Yes. A good time will no doubt be had by all.


(h/t pogge)

Quote du Jour: Proctological Orifices

From the politically correct Jake Tapper:

In February during a discussion on energy at Berkeley, Calif., (and prior to his joining the Obama administration) [Van] Jones referred to Republicans using an epithet for a proctological orifice, which he called "a technical, political science term."

Asked why Republicans asserted more control of the Senate when they had a smaller majority before 2006, Jones said "the answer to that is, they're a--holes." He added that President Obama is not an a--hole, but, "I will say this. I can be an a--hole, and some of us who are not Barack Hussein Obama are going to have to start getting a little bit uppity."

- Controversial Obama Administration Official Denies Being Part of 9/11 "Truther" Movement, Apologizes for Past Comments


White House officials said they were surprised and frustrated by the reaction to a speech they said amounts to an educational pep talk.
- the WaPo

Democrats also say that for all their preparations, they never anticipated Republicans and their allies rolling out incendiary accusations that the Obama plan would empower "death panels," help illegal immigrants and raid Medicare.
- the WSJ

"I don't understand why the left of the left has decided that this is their Waterloo," said a senior White House adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "We've gotten to this point where health care on the left is determined by the breadth of the public option. I don't understand how that has become the measure of whether what we achieve is health-care reform."
- the WaPo

"I am surprised, compared to where I started, when we first announced for the race, by the number of critical issues that appear to be coming to a head all at the same time," Obama said on a question at a press conference on the occasion of his completing 100 days in office.

Vice President Biden voiced surprise at the criticism some House liberals have voiced about the administration's economic stimulus plan and said yesterday that he is holding out hope that the final version of the measure will attract support from "more than a handful of Senate Republicans and more than a couple dozen in the House."
- the WaPo

Within 24 hours of calling Rush Limbaugh “incendiary” and “ugly,” RNC Chairman Michael Steele had bowed down before the radio host, declaring, “There was no attempt on my part to diminish [Limbaugh's] voice or his leadership.” When Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about the episode today, Gibbs suggested Steele’s reply proved that Limbaugh is in fact the head of the Republican Party:

GIBBS: I was a little surprised at the speed in which Mr. Steele, the head of the RNC, apologized to the head of the Republican Party.
- Think Progress

The Obama Daughters Surprised With a Swing Set
- ABC News

(Okay. That last one is stretching it a bit but you get the point.)

Well, I’m shocked and surprised at their shock and surprise.
- Paul Krugman, the NYT

An anonymous White House source added that they were also surprised to learn that the movie All the President's Men was based on a true story and that former Senator Joe McCarthy wasn't Jenny McCarthy's dad.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Peter MacKay or Monty Python: You decide...

OTTAWA — Peter MacKay denied Thursday that he was in a conflict of interest when he was a director of two family forestry companies while serving as a federal cabinet minister.

The defence minister and Central Nova MP acknowledged being in violation of the Conflict of Interest Act, which forbids ministers from serving on the boards of private companies, but he said that doesn’t necessarily mean he was in a conflict.

“As I have acknowledged, earlier this week I discovered I was not in compliance with section 15 of the act and took immediate steps to rectify the situation,” Mr. MacKay wrote in a letter emailed to The Chronicle Herald on Thursday. “A lack of compliance with section 15 does not, in itself, constitute a conflict of interest.”

Mr. MacKay objected to the headline on the front-page story: MacKay in Conflict of Interest.

“This headline is misleading, as it is simply not supported by the story you have published,” Mr. MacKay wrote. “Nothing in the story you have published establishes the existence of a conflict of interest.”

Shorter MacKay: It's only a conflict if it's a conflict and since it was a conflict, it wasn't really a conflict. Oh. And, "I forgot" so - no conflict. What's a tree?

Canada's ethics commissioner: That'll cost you $200.

Harper's Economic Fearmongering

If there's an election this fall, we're all gonna die!

Or something like that...


An election does nothing for the country than present a great risk that we could get off track.

Economists say a federal election unlikely to derail Canada's economic recovery

Bob Rae:

"There's an effort here on the part of the Conservatives to create an atmosphere of total instability," Rae said. "Well, we're not a banana republic. Mr. Harper's not a generalissimo yet. He has to get used to living in a constitutional democracy."


The performance of Canada's economy has been significantly better than elsewhere.


Canada, which fought off recession much longer than its peers in the Group of Seven nations, will trail them down the road to recovery, according to new projections by the Organization for Economic Development and Co-operation.

All G7 economies save those of Canada, Britain and Italy will expand in the third quarter, the Paris-based OECD said Thursday.

Any questions?

BernierGate Redux

Flashback to May 2008 when Steve had this to say about the Maxime Bernier scandal:

"I don't take this seriously."

Today, Le Devoir reported on what it found in those classified documents that Bernier left in Couillard's apartment - and it's very serious stuff:

The documents include classified information about NATO's plans to expand operations in the Balkans, Taliban prisoners in Afghanistan, arms control in the Middle East, security in Ukraine, and al-Qaeda's presence in Pakistan.
At the time, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Bernier did not breach national security by leaving the documents behind. Harper indicated the documents included a mix of public and confidential material, and briefing notes for meetings.

Asked about these revelations at his press conference today, Steve said that since Bernier had resigned from his portfolio, he didn't have anything more to say about it. Bernier, however, is still a Conservative MP. I doubt Steve will be able to simply slough this off again like he tried to do when the scandal first broke. If the Cons had any integrity [insert chuckle here], they'd kick Bernier's ass right out of the party and onto the curb.


Bernier responds to Le Devoir on his blog.

Le Devoir: Une mine d'informations cruciales pour l'ennemi

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Ignatieff's Big Lie

Stephen Harper hasn’t just failed to stand up for Canada—he’s also failed to stand up for Canadians.

Suaad Mohamud. Omar Khadr. Makhtal. Bahari. Mohamed. Abdelrazik.

Being a Canadian must mean the Canadian government will stand up for you—no matter where, no matter when. This is at the heart of what every Liberal believes: a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.

A Liberal government would stand by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

We would stand by our citizens.

And we would bring forward legislation to protect Canadians abroad—to make it illegal for the government to pick and choose which citizens it protects—to make sure these abuses never happen again.

- Ignatieff's speech

Apparently, Ignatieff isn't aware of the Liberal party's history of refusing to fight for Omar Khadr's return while it was in power. Former foreign affairs minister Bill Graham justified it thusly in 2008:

Graham concedes that the Liberal government's response was not unlike that given by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government today – that Canada will not interfere as it accepts U.S. assurances Khadr is being treated and will face justice.

"That was our response as well," Graham said. "I think a year or two years after 9/11 that was a perfectly legitimate response."

He only changed his tune after his Liberal government fell.

And the Liberal party track record on Maher Arar's case was equally as dismal as it enabled the Syrians and Americans to get away with confining and torturing him.

How dare he spout that "a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian" is "at the heart of what every Liberal believes" when actions prove otherwise?

Ignatieff's Talking Tough - Again

The headline du jour coming out of the Liberal party's caucus meeting in Sudbury courtesy of Ignatieff is: "Mr Harper, your time is up; we cannot support this government any further".

Speaking after Mr Ignatieff and going further than Iggy was willing to, Denis Coderre informed reporters that the Liberals will take their first opposition day in October to introduce a non-confidence motion. That certainly remains to be seen considering the cry wolf scenario the Liberals have been repeating over and over this year.

In response to Ignatieff, Steve said:

"Going through more political games, more political instability, does not serve the country's interests right now."

Games like perogying proroguing parliament? Because that little chess game sure was fun.

The Liberal party may have the lead in the fund raising race but the party platform that Ignatieff promised when he was anointed back in the spring which he said would be released in June has yet to materialize. Ignatieff talked about their "vision" during his speech. Okay then: what is it? Because from where I sit, the talk is about being Conservative-Lite (which is basically what the party has become anyway).

It's no secret that I find Ignatieff to be incredibly uninspiring and about as exciting as melba toast. And I'm not alone in that. How the party plans to actually win an election after a year of basically being tied in the polls with Steve's government is beyond me.

I think the party missed the boat when it backed down in June at a time when the recession was a majorly stressful concern across this country. That stress has eased somewhat since then even though the economics haven't improved all that much (and are, in fact, worse in some areas). Steve's government didn't deserve to coast through the summer while being allowed every opportunity to make its case. The poll results clearly show that the summer was a write-off for the opposition parties that provided a boost for the Conservatives.

So, here the Liberals are without a clear platform and with a leader who'd do a better job of narrating lullaby books on tape than rallying Canadians to vote for him. "We can do better" is not a policy statement.


You can read Ignatieff's speech here.

In my next post about that speech, I'll expose one big lie that Ignatieff spouted. Stay tuned.


Skepticism abounds in the blogosphere:

Calgary Grit: This Time We Mean It?

Driving the Porcelain Bus: "Liberals won't prop up Tories: Ignatieff" - Hard to believe with their record

Scott's Diatribes: Ignatieff: '‘The Liberal Party of Canada cannot support this government any further’

Accidental Deliberations: On revelations

Hell, Upside Down: Iggy Applies the George Costanza Theory

BigCityLib: What The Hell Does It Mean?