Thursday, November 27, 2008


... is what the CON's pointed attack at the opposition parties should serve as.
If you are a supporter of an opposition party and you read the news today about how much your team relies on public funding, you likely were shocked or at least discomforted.
The Bloc gets 86% of its financing from the dispersal of money from the $1.90-a-vote subsidy. Elizabeth May's team, which has just recently emerged on the national stage and reached the threshhold necessary for a piece of the pie, is reliant on it to the point of 65%. And us Liberals? A whopping 63% of our current funds come this way, while the NdP slightly less at 57%. Still, a far cry from the CON-temptors, who pulled in the highest total last election but it only accounts for 35% of their receivables.
Reading a sample of the better blogs, I sense the anger and passion that Harper's attempts at handcuffing opposition has done. It has also apparently created a united front in Ottawa. That all opposition parties appear on side and ready to stand up is a very positive step. Not just because of this but also for the fact that Flaherty's faux fiscal update ignores the current climate of fear sweeping across the nation. The meme from Thursday's blarney is merely a Tommy Flanagan whip to whack the achilles of the opposition.
However, another message should be received loud and clear. It is time to get into action; we can't wait for a new leader, whom ever that is, to unveil a new model and a new strategy. Reaching out, spreading the news and providing real, concise reasons for Canadians to donate must be done now. This is the kind of moment that have gotten the CONs in their wealth creation scheme. This is the way that we can help our party, and help prepare to stand up for Canada. Really. Because the last guy to use that slogan really has been sitting down on the job.
Mr. Dion, get head office to unleash a well-thought out, direct pitch to members and former members, the general public, et al. Michael, Bob and Domenic, now is the time to share your ideas with the head office, don't hold back. By looking at the CON strategy here, there is no tomorrow.
And you. Get up and donate. NOW.


In fact, I suggest everyone take a deep breathe. Exhale. Put those crumpled shreddings of a newspaper and broken pieces of a remote down.
The chances of there being another election within the next few months, never mind the next few weeks, is on the same scale as George W. being named Time's Man of the Year. It could happen, but it ain't.
Stephen Harper's intention is pretty clear in his so-called fiscal update, which even to one right-wing copy horse, is neither fiscal nor updated.
It includes no new spending, infrastructure or otherwise, to stimulate the economy or address large industrial collapses. It essentially points to the past two years and says: "Isn't what we did enough?"
Had your financial advisor told you 12 months ago to spend your rainy-day fund on a motor boat, a big limousine ride and a wild party, I'm guessing you'd have found yourself a new advisor. But that's exactly what these bozos did. A $3-billion contingency fund, set aside for an emergency, wiped out in Harper's laise-faire attempt to buy a majority. He didn't see this coming, or if he did, his blind ambition left him thinking that the public would overlook his broken promises, half-assed attempts at managing the economy and given him a majority -- which we didn't.
So now comes the No More Mr Nice Guy, having shucked the sweater for a steel girdle and a bayonet.
Just over a week after unveiling the most bloated cabinet in Canadian history, he's now bleating that politicians will set the example. The first step is to be the public funding of political parties.
To please rural Quebecois, Harper and his CON-spirators have come up with a non-veiled threat. I won't say he's attempting to undermine Canada's democracy, but certainly his goal is to weaken the pillars that were set up in replace of fairly unfettered donation regulations.
He may have a point, the current program may be in need of a change, but I'll put forth my ideas later. This is neither the time nor place, because during a period of economic and social stress, we need to have our parliament functioning together, not torn asunder.
So again, take a deep breathe.
If the discussions of a coalition breed a working agreement, I'm certain that Harper will withdraw. If not, we could be in time for a Canadian history lesson, reliving Byng-King.
In this situation, I like our odds as Underdogs.

Monday, November 10, 2008


With 2 young children at home, my movie-going hobby has become a mere ghost of what it once was. No double-dip treats at the mega-plex, nor late evening escapades to the city to see a classic on rare display.

But this past week, I made time to catch Passchendaele.

It's not likely to become a timeless classic but it does have incredible value, as both a historic lesson and a heart-wrenching entertainment. The passion of director/writer/co-producer/song writer/actor Paul Gross is there, perhaps maybe a touch too much, but I applaud him for a thoughtful, impressive retelling of a time and people that are long forgotten. That Remembrance Day is just around the corner made it a timely must-see; and the film adds another candle to some very strong Canadian films of late. The memories of cardboard tax dodges with lame laugh tracks and tinny soundtracks is so 70s ish.

Gross stars as Michael Dunne, which is a personal tribute to his own grandfather, a WWI soldier. We witness early the ravages of war that sent him home a broken man (although my main complaint is that Gross' ability to express/display the soul-numbing experience seems underwhelming) and now a recovering shell of a man in Calgary, expected to trade on his valor medals by enlisting the young and shamed. A nurse, passionately unveiled by Montreal's Caroline Dhavernas, deals with her own pain by comforting the damaged. Her brother (Joe Dinicol) meanwhile labours as a teenager in love and a shamed survivor. The cast is by and large terrific. My quibbles with Gross may be an overreaction; he is the centre of the film, after all. Along with the patriotic and powerful who attempt to wield their way over the rest, these fragile people seek means to survive.

The war becomes their recourse.

There are moments of great emotion, of delicate and skillfully played sincerity, and some truly frightening scenes of war. It made me wish that, as a young man, I had ventured out to thank the dwindling survivors of that conflict when the opportunity was still possible; now, the chance to show my appreciation for soldiers of the second world war (my mother, born-and-bred BCer, was stationed in Quebec while my prairie-raised father in Europe) is drawing closed. Whether you see this film or not, I recommend you take the time, somehow and somewhere, to tell a veteran that you care about the sacrifices they and their friends made, for us.

It should not be just a one-day-a-year type of thing.

By John McCrae

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow

Between the crosses row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

Post note: I had a brief moment during the film where I imagined, how would a Canadian version of the classic American war film be made? You know, the kind that were star-studded, cameos of everyone, and would it be successful? Of course, its to be debated whether many of those US war films were successful, but just imagine the cast:

Keanu Reeves, Gordon Pinscent, Keifer Sutherland, Michael J. Fox, Jim Carrey, William Shatner, Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams... maybe it's better as an idea in my head.

One partisan reflection from the film: At one point we are briefly introduced to the sister and brother's neighbour - a large, slovenly man with a brutish dog at his side. He is at first unfriendly and later at best a boorish bully. I don't know if there was even a need to identify this man by name, because he's just the neighbour. But Gross has the brother address him and maybe, just maybe, it was a wild slapshot at a fellow Calgarian: "Hi Mr. Harper."