Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Ah, now the under-sell.
Stephen Harper is crafty, he's shifty and more than a little conceited.
He's also as transparent as saran wrap.
All his blathering on the international stage about global warming is the talk of someone who has to sell some old stock that he never liked. Dressing up his plan as though it has teeth, even though virtually everyone with any experience and knowledge of climate change shoots it down as fluffy pillow stuffing.
Turning the page, he's also doing his darndest to look like a man who doesn't want an election -- the eager suitor rarely gets the pretty girl.
Now, he's even musing publicly that a majority isn't in the cards. But behind the scenes, revving up the engines, stoking the fires and stockpiling the mud.
During the last election, he let slip that people shouldn't fear a CON majority -- there were checks and balances to keep them from really wracking havoc on the Canada we know. Thanks for the warning -- the CONs immediately lost 3-4% off their support and ended up with a soft minority.
So now the trick is to convince people at the ballot box, 'Don't worry, it'll be a minority.' And hopes that succeeds to win over a few soft centre votes who like somethings they've done, and wouldn't want the firm grip of Harper anywhere near our national treasures.
Of course, my advice to the Liberal party would be to run an ad with Harper's clip from the past election saying 'Don't worry' and then list off the things he's cut and done: Kelowna Accord, national childcare strategy, our international reputation, the Kyoto Accord, Income Trusts, Canada's independent foreign policy, the court challenges program etc. And then state: "He said not to worry. If he would do this in a minority with a balanced budget, what would he do in a majority?"
It would be a truly scary possibility.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
There's enough doom and gloom out in the world without us Liberals creating our own.
So the MainStream Media has forgotten that we're kindred spirits, and a large chunk of Montrealers ignored their inalienable right to vote for us.
These by-elections, while being defined as 'a test of leadership', in fact are tests of a hundred straws. Unlike a federal election, the local candidates truly create different battles -- Mulcair pushing for men's grooming (not lemon) aids; Lebel riding the wave of his 80s sexy songs; Thi Lac demonstrating that rural Quebecers are not all ignorant zealots; even Coulon brought to the surface something that I never knew -- stuffy professorial nerds can't preach charisma.
Buck up, fellow Grit. The lessons to be learned are numerous, and the sting will disappear along with the swelling. But study some of the ashes -- notice how Harper continued to show his colours, first by using the 'veil issue' to sow some ethno-angst among rural Quebecers, and in Outremont, even with a respectably known candidate, he gave him few resources in which to make a dent; in effect, Harper tore out Dion's page from the Green party pact -- waving a white flag just to embarrass his rival. Of course, it's fitting that this doofus is now living in a NdP riding. Maybe his new MP can finally get some action on ridding us of the senate.
But was this a by-election ballot on leadership? Perhaps to a small minority of voters, but the popularity of the winners is fairly understandable. Lebel, a local mayor, surfs on the Dumont wave; Mulcair a liberal in orange clothe, who's own personality complex likely means a short shelf life on that team.
Was last year's London Centre by-election a vote on leadership? We didn't have one and we won. Harper had a large hole to climb but had a somewhat popular mayor (quickly, define 'popular') wearing the blue-coloured gag.
There's plenty of excellent ideas on what to do next here and here.
Does the team need work? You betcha. Do I trust this guy -- he was an ardent Ignatieff supporter during the leadership race, now part of the leaking bags over our portside.
The CONs love creating mischief like tossing around fake 'Bob the Red' buttons at the convention and giving phoney 'tips' to lazy reporters. And they no doubt have time to create numerous fake blog IDs or just repeat anonymous comments across the ethernet.
I'm not suggesting we cross into their territory, but we've got to toughen up. Put aside the Queensborough rulebook and give them a punch at the beltline. They've demonstrated a completely incompetent knowledge of things economical and ethical, breaking promises to some of their core supporters, while demonstrating an amazing skill at hypocrisy, so let's trumpet these things, while also launching some of those whiz-bang policy ideas that are in the bank. And most of all, we can't go about propping them up just because we lost a by-election.
That's the NdP's game. Because if you want Kyoto, Kelowna, universal childcare, you aren't going to get it with Harper at the helm.
And we've got to get out there and remind those soft NdPers and soft PCers all these facts.
And Monday's by-election results? Frankly Scarlet, I don't give a damn.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
When it has come to trumpeting the cause of war, Christine Blatchford has taken it to a new level among Canadian journalists. In many ways, her coverage of the Afghanistan mission for the Globe & Mail has elevated the readers' sense of the conflicted situation in the country where invaders always lose.
Although she isn't quite the 'pro-war celebrator' that some in the US proved to be for Iraq, Blatchford has consistently condemned the role of the opposition to question and challenge the government on its place and proposal for our men and women fighting alongside the Afghan National Police.
In Wednesday's paper, however, she kind of snapped, beginning another 'get behind the boys' blast with "I left Kandahar yesterday for the fourth time in 18 months. For the first time, I left filled with shame."
The 'shame' apparently is directed at the opposition that doesn't see the mission as clearly as Ms Blatchford. Apparently only her personal regular attention to the case is worthy of constructive denouement; while the situation on the ground has been compared in recent days as 'one foot forward, two feet back', she has the clear-headedness to see that only Canada and a one-hundred percent support of whatever the generals are mapping out in the backroom is good enough for our fighters.
Sorry to disagree, but the first question I have is: since when is the Opposition setting the tone on this mission? With only one reference of Stephen Harper, Blatchford has seemingly forgotten the trepid situation our Prime Minister sits in. His main mantra and life purpose the past 12 months has been trimming the tree for a majority. The Opposition was fairly clear on a number of issues that it didn't like what was happening -- the softwood lumber agreement, the gov't's Green Plan, and Afghanistan. All have been framed by Harper at one time or another, as a tool to bully the weakened and exhausted opposition forces to back down. Afghanistan has been and continues to be a case of the PM's club. Because Harper 'doesn't react to polls', the latest signal from our so-called leader's righthand man is that the combat part of our mission will not be extended. Not that he's reading any poll, mind you, but hey if its a majority he wants, that's exactly what the polls would be telling him, right? Which would not make him a leader, either.
While Stephane Dion remains adamant in supporting an end to the combat portion of this meeting by the 2009 extension date, and Jack Layton remains adamant about withdrawing immediately, it is the PM that sets the tone and direction, if he so chooses.
But then, he has consistently tried to follow the Republican blueprint with constant missteps. And there is where Blatchford should put most of her blame. Canadians are possibly more acutely aware of what's happening around them than most nations. They've followed closely the ugly, virtually treasonist acts of an American administration that would demand impeachment for a President that lied about cheating on his wife, but turn a blind eye, nay, even cheer on, a President who calls for the invasion and mass bombing of a country under false pretenses. The press, Blatchford's cousins, joined the cheering masses in the rush to war.
Harper also joined that march.
Does Ms Blatchford have any time to dig into Harper's motivation behind that move?
But having witnessed the quagmire down south, is it no doubt that Canadians, when faced with a situation where American forces should truly be the leading forces but instead have made it a third ring to their circus, are skeptical and hesitant to trumpet a longer investment in both Canadian lives and time?
Dion nor Layton are setting the agenda here. Blatchford should ask the man who pretends to lead just why he's changing direction -- could it be that he so preciously wants the Quebec voter on his side that he's willing to sell the last vestiges of a soul for it?
After more than 60 soldiers from various regiments died for the cause, why after just a couple from Quebec's Vandoos has the government suddenly decided to follow the opposition's lead?
Who is holding this government, it's leader who refuses to face questions, to answer? That is a shame you can do something about, Ms Blatchford.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Since Canada stepped into Afghanistan there has been little room for full-scale political debate, at least from the two major parties. It was Jean Chretien and Paul Martin who made the primary commitments, always with the criticism from the right that it was almost an apology for not joining Bush's War On Terrar in Iraq. While Harper lambasted the Liberals for their failure to follow loyally into that quagmire, he remained sullenly committed, in his own way, to Afghanistan.
When he took over as PM, the CONserfative leader asserted a different messaging from the military -- that we were there to kill some butt, not just alleviate a horrible situation brought on by the Taliban.
Canadian soldiers were there for the long haul. Harper even positioned the 'debate' on extending the mission -- one he adamantly said wouldn't happen, but changed his tune once he saw the kind of corner he could put the Liberals in -- with the caveat that he'd extend it anyways, no matter the end result.
The casualties became a troubling problem for Harper, and he tried to follow Bush's lead by limiting, even banning, the media's coverage of the soldiers' bodies being returned home.
When that didn't work, he shifted gears. Made the war and the soldiers his own personal prop for re-election photos, making 'surprise' visits, wearing bulging vests and 'talking hockey'. The Governor General's request to visit was denied and put off until nearly every important cabinet minister had gotten into the photo.
Harper pitched and pitched, making his big 'Canada doesn't cut and run, it's not my way and its not Canada's way' speech. The polling however showed that Afghanistan, despite the various achievements like women now able to participate in the society with increasing equality, girls being able to go to school etc, remained a touchy topic, no more unpopular than in Quebec.
So this summer he finally removed the starchly left-footed Minister of Defence with a more skilled dancer, Peter McKay, and replaced him in Foreign Affairs with rookie Maxime Bernier, hoping that the pair would be able to massage the message better in english and french.
More than 55 Canadian soldiers had been killed before Quebec's Van Doos crossed the Atlantic and hit the Kandahar soil. The message from the PM's office, however, remained the same. We were there for the long haul, he said. The government showed its intention by spending BILLIONs on military investments, much of it geared towards war in the sandy, hot conditions of the region.
After the Van Doos arrival, the media started reporting on how casualties from that troop could affect Canada's will to carry the burden. That the opinion of Quebeckers may be 'turned' by the loss of their own.
And when the Van Doos suffered casualties, the question became a live wire.
Suddenly, the government is now stating that the mission will change as of late 2009, when this extension will have expired.
It isn't Harper saying this, and that's because it would go against his 'pro-war, Theo Roosevelt-ic image of carrying a big stick' kind of leadership image.
But to the voters, er people of Quebec, the message is clear: We are withdrawing from Kandahar and removing our troops from the toughest battle grounds at the end of this tour.
It didn't take long into the Van Doos tour for that turn to occur, but let's not pussy-foot around, Harper is once again using the military and our soldiers for political gain.
Call it wise politics, label it a back-flip of herculean proportions. The supporters of this government must do another contortionist shift in direction, like the Income Trust twist and the Accountability (is for them, not us) shuffle.
But this one should strengthen his chance at winning in Quebec. And the price for a majority? Priceless.
Saturday, September 1, 2007
A nice sabbatical but back to muttering. Thankfully, our 'New Government of Canada' keeps on giving in terms of turds, missteps and excremental ideas...
Item 1 -- Dick Harris speaks the truth.
It may not be considered official CONservative Party opinion (altho what's the chance of Deceivin Stephen allowing his minions to speak and think on their own? Yah, I didn't think so either) but his recent slice of Open Mouth, Insert Foot-ism about useless members of parliament who aren't in government.
"Realistically, to have access to the ministers you know - realistically - you have to be part of the government," Harris, who is also a B.C. MP, said in a radio interview. "There is sort of a little bit of a pecking order in Parliament."
Now, it doesn't take a brainiac to decipher Harris' admission here, but let's translate it for the common good: "All those years of Chretien governments where I represented the fine people of B.C.'s north? I was just a useless moose turd beside the railroad tracks. Yep, I may have meant good but c'mon, not even a go-getter like Jay (Hill, Harris' fellow useless teat from northern BC) could get things done during those cold years. We knew it and we wanted to tell our constituents, that they should have been calling the local Liberal candidate who could have delivered some real good service to the riding. But fukkwads that we are, we just closed our cakeholes and ate Parliamentary steak..."
Item #2 - Last month's cabinet shuffle didn't impress some people-- or any people not already Blue.
Certainly, if you are a regular reader of Vancouver's The Link newspaper, a free distributed weekly written for the South Asian community (altho available in english), the shuffle was the same as a snub.
"No 'Browns' For Harper As He Keeps Cabinet Lilly White" reads the headline from the Sat. Aug. 18th edition.
The story, by paper editor R. Paul Dhillon, goes on: "Prime Minister Stephen Harper, keeping with his former Reform/Alliance ideology, kept all 'Brownies' out of his new cabinet, even ignoring bright MPs like Rahim Jaffer from getting into a junior ministry following this week's shuffle...
Okay, perhaps The Link is considered the 'Red Star' of Canada's ethnic newspapers; but their take on Harper's cabinet mincing weighs some thought. Wajid's secret report not withstanding, who beyond the ultra-right white Tom Flanagan is calling the shots here? And why aren't more people pointing out this frightening fact?
Oh well, as friends of Harper probably say, 'Let's keep this between ourselves, okay?'