Friday, October 17, 2008


The embers of Tuesday's election are still warm, and for some of us the sting remains.

Unlike some, however, I do not wish or want a hasty decision from Stephane Dion.

He wears the burden of the result but should not shoulder it alone. There remain many questions but the aim should be to decipher the right answers that will carry the Liberal Party forward, and not into the depth of despair, bigger debt and denial that our opponents are hoping for.

I am certainly disappointed but not disillusioned -- except mainly in the attention and focus of some members of the media. That may be a subject for another post, however it should be noted that few members of the U.S. media ever faced the music or examined with integrity their own roles in the build-up and unleashing of the Bush Iraq War boondoggle. So let's not hold our breath.

Instead, while some prefer to prompt an argument over leadership, I'd rather aim the march to the critical re-birth that the party needs in these times. Just as Lester Pearson, who had suffered a humiliating defeat in 1958, including some almost tramatizing embarrassments, rolled up his sleeves along with the party braintrust and many of Canada's elite thinkers, I feel that is the direction we need to move.

We need to discover our brand again, unearth our purpose for governing and what we envision Canada's future to be. Is that through some large, public spending policies like national pharmacare or a guaranteed income, or updating Canadian democracy through abandoning first-past-the-post heritage that has for the most part served our party well over the past decade? Does it require a shift back to the centre, or a ambitious embrace of more centre-left ideals? Or other multiple options and proposals yet to be debated? Then there's our own machinery that is direly needing updating. The party does not serve it's grassroots well. Here in BC, a creaky, uncoordinated apparatus at the Vancouver office continually fails to respond to the riding executive's needs, whether it be providing quick and current funding reports or membership information, or responding to specific requirements, like producing and supplying information for members. I don't know how it's done in other provinces, but if it is as ineffective as BC's model, then that explains a lot.

Should Stephane Dion want to stay and fight both the backroom battleaxes and the dirty politicking of Harper and his henchmen, I will support him 100 per cent. If he chooses to step down, I will again support him. While I didn't vote for him at the 2006 convention, I have developed an immense appreciation for him, a man of rare integrity, warm intellect and awkward but certain passion.

It's incumbent on all members of the party to face one concrete fact -- the Liberal Party is not equipped currently to survive a long and entrenched battle against a wealthy and unethical foe, who has the ear and weight of the main stream media at its beck-and-call.

We need funds and we need ideas, however we seem to be chasing them in the wrong order. Let us create a platform, through debate and discussion just as Pearson and his team did during the famous 1960 Kingston conference, to lead the party into the challenges ahead. A template has already been created, by Tom Axworthy, that offers a launching pad for renewal.

Great leaders have been attracted to the Liberal Party because of that tradition, not the other way around.

Let's work together on making the party stronger.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Stephen Harper may not be a chess master, but he's certainly demonstrated some talent at malevolent manipulation, especially when it comes to the Cadman affair.

With members of his party accused of offering financial considerations -- confirmed in Harper's own words on a taped interview -- to a dying MP for his vote, he knew that this sticky mess could dampen his pitch for all-encompassing power on Parliament Hill. It would be a virtual death blow to a man who campaigned (and quickly shed) on ethics.

So, he did what a shrewd, win at all costs general would do on the battlefield -- he attacked before his opponents could launch their best shots. Harper tried first to ignore it, deny it, then with his own voice asking "is this for publication?", he chose to aim his barrel at the author who penned the book, and his chief opponent. A lawsuit proved to be adequate enough to remove the issue for what was certainly long enough for an election. Well, it turns out it wasn't. Those darn abstaining Liberals. He had to request, beg almost, for the judge to hold off his case against the Liberal Party due to an election he said he wouldn't call.

Now, after imposing his own lip-lock on the final few days of the hustings, Harper managed to squeeze out a few answers in an exclusive interview Monday night just before the election coverage blackout -- thus eliminating any opportunity for follow-up questions or counter-spin. What a leader.

While even his own tape expert has contradicted Harper's main defence, that the interview tape was doctored, he still has an ace in the hole. That ace was Cadman's widow, who was the prime witness for the author's claim that a $1 million insurance policy offer was made to secure the MP's vote. With his own cold, calculating blue eyes, Harper somehow gained the trust of Dona Cadman, whom some may call a well-meaning, if somewhat unsophisticated lady, telling her that he knew nothing of a million-dollar offer.

Completely inadmissable, but aren't the similarities between the Cadman case and the Gurmant Grewal affair, where the CON MP attempted to sting the Liberals by feigning interest in crossing the floor, cause to prick up thy ears, oh media?

Dona chose to run for the CON party in this election, thus giving Harper another alibi for his own actions. She hasn't changed her story -- Chuck was approached by men from the CON team. Now, that ugly incident that nearly stained her husband's legacy is water under the bridge. But I'm betting she didn't come up with the idea on her own. What if Harper planted a seed with the widow, of continuing her husband's work, and carrying the torch for the CONs in Surrey North? Wouldn't that be just what Chuck would have wanted? Who said a snake has no charm?

These things we do know: Mrs. Cadman has shown little skill as a politico but has followed the Harper campaign strategy to a 'T'. In other words, she's eluded the media, and refused to explain the situation -- it is before the courts, so-to-speak.

But it seems to be like that court-room tactic of where the chief witness suddenly can't testify because she's since wed the accused. If it works on Boston Legal, why not on Ottawa Improper?

Let's get this straight: Dona Cadman will only go as far as the party brand can take her tomorrow. She is not the type of person who wins over the electorate, she has none of her husband's charm, nor delivers any kind of passion for the job. While he entered politics as a one-issue candidate, the maverick earned his stripes by walking the walk, demonstrating integrity above so much callous and shallow political games. Through no fault of her own, that's not Dona. But it's as though she's a cypher for someone else, doing this marathon of hide-and-seek, likely believing in her own cause, but not seeing that she's a pawn being played.

That Harper has pulled the eyes over the media on this is without a doubt. You could even say that they've been derelict in their duty in pressing for more answers on this character-revealing case of subterfuge and distortion of democracy (question- Dona still sticks by the story that there were two meetings, despite the party's denial. Who were the men?). It's the equivalent of George W's war record. But that Harper has tarnished the reputation of the one hero in this whole affair, and used his widow to cover his tracks, is a signal that he can never be trusted. But will the real story ever be told?

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Progressive voters have a lot of power heading into Tuesday's federal election. The CON team, led by head cheese Steve Harper, remains within striking distance according to some polls, yet holds an edge that could result in what the so-called leader said is a "stronger mandate" and send a "pretty severe warning" to the opposition parties. Yep, that means 14 year olds in adult prisons, continued governing behind closed doors, and using fear as a wedge on all kinds of issues, from economy to the environment. Oh yeah, and it means science takes a back seat to paranormal dressers and gut instincts.

But that draconian result doesn't have to be, if we put our heads, hearts and votes together to put some Tory turkeys out to pasture.

To do that, we need to park our partisan hopes to one side and look at key battlegrounds. While the rationale behind strategic voting will be a work in progress until parties begin to trust their rivals, there are a few key ridings where it is incumbent that we unite to rock the CONs.

In the following six ridings, Canadians who believe in the ideals and achievements of Douglas and Pearson, Trudeau and Broadbent can send a Harper minister/heavyweight packing, need to get their acts together and support the best option available to bounce a CON.

HALDIMAND-NORFOLK : The wife of Harper's right-hand hatchet man Doug Finley, Diane has been getting a little heat for her non-appearances around the riding. She raised the ire of both farmers and citizens of Caledonia for not helping solve a heated battle over land claims. The immigration and citizen minister wouldn't be in trouble in this solid conservative riding if not for the popularity of independent candidate Gary McHale. But the real challenge for Finley falls in the form of Dr. Eric Hoskins, a physician who has travelled the world working in war zones, becoming the youngest recipient of the UN's Lester Pearson Peace Medal.

If Ndp and Green supporters get behind Hoskins in what could be a close battle, the region would replace a Harper bobblehead with a tremendous talent.


REGINA-LUMSDEN-LAKE CTR : Famous for his open-lapel, anti-gay slur in a dusty old video, Harper henchman Tom Lukiwiski made an almost teary-eye apology that was followed by complete indifference for his actions. His caveman-attitude is reflected in a lot of ideas that pass as proposals by this CON corps, so a true message should be delivered, and thankfully Fred Kress, NdP candidate, is the man to deliver it. It's a close battle where the margin of victory was less than 4,000 votes. Liberals and Greens should put their 'X' beside Kress.


EDMONTON-STRATHCONA : Although he has shed his profile as Parliament hill lothario, due to the engagement with fellow CON Helena Guergis, Rahim Jaffer has built up a reputation as an underwhelming but loyal presence in Harper's squad. However, he is the rare Tory who doesn't have his constituents unblinking devotion, thus opening the door for the NdP's Linda Duncan, a renowned advocate and environmental lawyer. It's critical that good Liberal and Green supporters give their support to Duncan to bump this CON duffus.


PARRY SOUND-MUSKOKA : Not much needs to be said, other than Mike Harris retread Tony Clement is a meddling moron. By voting for the Liberal's Jamie McGarvey, Clement can be removed from a position where he can do much harm.


SAANICH-GULF ISLANDS : Once again, Harper has thrusted a dangerous imbecile in over his head, with Gary Lunn having already made nuclear safety a risky option in Canada. And what do you think is the CONs' hidden answer to Canada's energy future? You guessed it. All the more reason for NdPers (who lost their candidate just after the deadline) and Greenies to back Dr. Briony Penn of the Liberals. This is a must-do.


OTTAWA-WEST : Here's another ugly reminder of that Harris regime, Johnny Baird. He so happens to be the environment minister, or manager of regressive faux outrage. To knock this redundant greenhouse gas producer from his seat, progressives must move behind Liberal David Pratt. Your wife will thank you, your kids will thank you, as will all God's creatures upon Baird's extinction from the House of Commons.



Imagine, how happy Jack Layton and his brothers and sisters will be if they crack the 33-seat barrier reef -- that'd be their second-highest total in party history.

It's why he's so adamant that strategic voting is more evil than Harper's haste. A Liberal government is in Jack's mind the biggest obstacle to his road to 24 Sussex Drive.

No, he doesn't want you NdP voters to think about what could be -- afterall, we've already sacrificed universal child care, a working plan and commitment to the First Nations people of our country, and two years of possible action on Kyoto. Instead, he wants you to sit at the kitchen table and understand that only he, Jack of all parades, can deliver from the back row of the house.

To reach his goal, he will need some tight battles to fall his way, a few from the CONs but more from the Liberals, in both Ontario and B.C.

If the electorate is as puzzled heading into the voting booth as some polls suggest, you have to wonder just what hill Jack's hoping to climb. If for a second election he plays a large role in a Harper government, this time many of his own supporters may really feel the pinch.

That's because part of the CON unspoken plan will hit home -- and hard.

Never mind having put his commitment to the environment on hold, because we all know it can wait for an NdP government in 2019, but good ol' Jack is ready to let the public sector feel the price of his own pride.

It's pure deduction, having witnessed it here in B.C. during the last left-right hand-over. We saw what an empowered, mean-spirited right-wing government will do to cut costs in troubled times. Rip up contracts, chop services, shift government jobs to the private sector - with deep slashes to wages in the process. And while the hard working people who rely upon those jobs, from Revenue Canada, Health Canada and Parks Canada, to name a few, will take the hit, Jack will have his handful of extra seats. A closer view of the catbird seat, where his pal Steve will cheer him on.
Naturally, the only way to block that tragic trajectory is for NdP supporters to vote Liberal in ridings where it's between a CON and Liberal candidate. I also endorse the idea of Liberal supporters lending Jack a vote in battles where it is the NdP with the best shot to knock off a CON. But you won't hear that from Jack. He's all about the plan.
And if Canada's middle class, the working poor and disadvantaged have to take a few punches for his prize, it's part of the game.

You go Jack. Just don't tell your followers what the exact cost will be.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Well, it should be tried, at least. True? Stephen Harper can't handle the truth. The veracity of it all stretches plausibility from someone who's control-freakiness includes tightly scripted photo ops, thorough vetting of his caucus' schedules, warring with the media, and a need to create a puffed-up perception of his intellect.

Funny, there's plenty of similarities of this to this... A man who has studied the field of intellectual property, who has done the rigors of higher academia, a person who understands the rights and wrongs about stealing someone else's ideas and words... Oh right, being a CONservative that niggling ethics thing wouldn't apply.

When Harper asks someone to fall on their sword, does it come with a golden parachute?

Do all those CON donors know exactly what they're subsidizing - the Harper Apology Agency?

Or does this give Lippert more time to finish that Harper book on hockey?