Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Fake Outrage - Klander

I'm a big fan of Bill Maher. He coined a term a while back that I just loved - it's called "fake outrage". It's a bottled version of the real thing that politicians and partisans use when they want to make it seem like someone has done something deplorable, or when they want to manufacture as much anger towards someone as possible. It's all a big show, of course - that's the nature of the game. It works well politically for politicians and their hacks to look like they're mad as hell and not going to take it anymore - it rallies the troops, not to mention the voters. Maher used the term to describe the reaction of a nameless Alabama congressman to his comments about the US military's recruiting problems; said Congressman called him a "traitor" for noting the troop recruitment problems in order to get his name-recognition up by manufacturing a small scandal.

The reaction I've seen from Tories thus far to Mike Klander has been, to be blunt, as pathetic an example of fake outrage as any I've ever seen. Fake outrage allows some... creative license. So for example, Bill Maher pointing out the obvious recruiting problems of the US military in a humourous and politically incorrect way (does anyone remember the name of his old show...?) as a politically incorrect comedian could be expected to do, can be conflated into him being a "traitor". Get how it works? Great, so let's see here, what were Klander's sins?

  • He compared Olivia Chow to a Chow Chow. Okay, not the most original attack (actually a bit childish), but that's about it. But wait, enter fake outrage and all of a sudden it's racist! You heard me. Conservatives have been calling Klander's comments racist. One can only assume it's because "Chow" is a common Chinese last name. Okay, so was the "Jack-o-Layton" racist? Needless to say, it takes a pretty big jump to go from "Chow Chow" to "card-carrying member of the KKK". For this alone, people making this ridiculous charge collectively should receive the Volpe Award for Outrageous Hyperbole and Overreaction
  • He called Jack Layton an "asshole". Again, crude. But nothing most of us haven't said about one politician or another at some point (if not all of them). Ill-advised? Yes. Childish? Yes. But have a little perspective - it's not as if he was breaking new ground.
  • He claimed that he'd never be a politician because he would have to pretend to like stupid people. Maybe I'm a misanthrope, but when I read that I laughed, because it's true. There are a lot of very, very stupid people in this world, and by association in this country, and yes, politicians do have to be nice to them. Is this news? Next.
  • Pointing out that Harper is using the attractive and female Rona Ambrose and the attractive and ethnic Rahim Jaffer as campaign props to demonstrate diversity within the Conservative caucus. Again, is this news? But of course, enter fake outrage, and all of a sudden he's a racist and a sexist. Right. So it's not racist or sexist for Harper to blatantly use Ambrose and Jaffer as campaign props, but it's racist and sexist to point that out?
  • He said Dalton McGuinty and Michael Ignatieff look like Martin Landau and Anthony Perkins. Okay, and we're outraged about this why? They DO look like Martin Landau and Anthony Perkins. I wasn't aware that pointing out similarities between politicians and actors was worthy of a full-frontal assault.
  • He pointed out that cowboy hats make Stephen Harper look "gay". Many people, including Paul Martin at the Press Gallery Dinner, have pointed this out. Did we all see Harper in that ridiculous village-people get-up? Oh, just to inform you - village people? Gay poster boys. Shocked? Cowboy get-up has been a primarily gay subculture for decades now. Yet this is an indication that Klander is homophobic. Oh, make me laugh and gag at the same time. This has got to be the most pathetic line of attack I've seen from Conservatives ever. Okay, so it's "homophobic" to make a humourous observation about someone wearing a cowboy costume (and it is a costume, let's be serious here, there are no real cowboys left) makes them look "gay". (Well, DUH.) And yet, Stockwell Day calling homosexuality a mental disorder, John Williams saying gays are "repulsive", Art Hanger calling it a "repudiation of nature", Dave Chatters saying "society has a right to discriminate against them", and Myron Thompson calling gays "unnatural and totally immoral", is completely acceptable!? Who are these people trying to kid? The Conservatives have no business calling anybody homophobic. Conservatives, let's not forget, are the only party running on a platform that seeks to deny gays their constitutionally-determined civil rights.
  • Pointing out that if Irwin Cotler, John Efford, and Chuck Cadman hadn't had funerals and medical procedures, they would have been in the House to make a tie out of those pseudo-confidence motions back in May.
  • Elaborating on well-known Liberal strategy of promising an election 30 days after the Gomery report.
Did I miss anything?

Well, honestly, it seems to me that what Mike Klander was most guilty of was giving the Conservatives ammunition to fire with their fake outrage guns, unforgivable during an election campaign, but just fine any other time.

Half of that stuff shouldn't even be controversial (like comparing Dalton McGuinty to Martin Landau appearance-wise), and the most of it is blown out of proportion (like comparing Olivia Chow to a funny-looking dog.) The rest of it just seems to be the random musings of someone with a foul mouth and a politically incorrect sense of humour. I'm not ashamed to say that I fit that definition, and frankly, seeing Klander assaulted the way he has been makes me wonder whether or not people like me have any place in the political discourse, or if we'll always be attacked with manufactured outrage every time we say something "offensive".

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Some Humour for what Ails Ya

Courtesy of myself and my good buddy Greg:

CANADA WARS


Episode IV: A New Hope

It is a period of Canadian civil war. The forces of the GALACTIC EMPIRE ruthlessly pursue the rebels in search of their hidden Nunavutian fortress....

Many Green Party members... died... to bring us this information.

"Well how can they be fillibustering us if they don't know......that we're coming.......All MPs! The shield's still up! Pull up!"

"Are you sure? I'm not getting a reading on CPAC"

"Pull up! All MPs pull up!"

Svend Robinson: Scoundrel?
Scott Brison: Yes.
Svend: Scoundrel? There aren't enough scoundrels in your life.
Scott: I happen to like nice men.
Svend: I'm a nice man.
Scott: No you're not you're a...

Emperor Harper: "The son of Trudeau must not become a Liberal."
Darth MacKay: "If he could be turned, he could be a powerful ally."
Emperor Harper: "Yes......yes. Can it be done?"
Darth MacKay: "He will join us or die..."

Ralph Goodale: "Budget matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my budget, do you? Hmm? And well you should not. For my ally is the PMO, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the PMO around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship."

Jack Layton (to Svend Robinson): Why you lying no-good two-bit swindler. You got a lot of guts to come here, after what you stole.

"The First Past the Post system is a pathway to election results SOME consider to be..... unnatural."

"Can I learn this power?"

"Not from a New Democrat..."

Harper: "Oh Peter, I trust you. That's why I need you to be my eyes and ears. I'm appointing you to be my personal representative in the Privy Council."

Bill Graham: "We recognize you as part of this counsel, but we do not grant you the rank of cabinet minister."

"The senate will NOT tolerate the destruction of homosexuals."

"I have just recieved word that the Emperor has disbanded the Imperial Senate. The last elements of the dominion have been swept away."

"But who will maintain order?"

"The premiers will have direct control over their territories. Fear will keep the provinces in line."

"You've never heard of the Millenium Stronach? She made the Conservative to Liberal caucus run in 12 parsecs. She's the fastest hunk of junk in the commons!"

Svend: "We've got to pass the budget amendment! We have no time to discuss this as a comittee!"

Scott: "I am NOT a commitee!"

Hope you enjoyed.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Sovereignty Over Life + Paul Martin is a coward

I've added another essay to the sidebar, one on Euthanasia. As you could probably guess, I come out squarely in favour of it. It's a philosophical essay, so if you're looking for emotionalism, you won't find it.

Meanwhile, I've started contributing at another blog, Centrerion. It's meant to be an amalgam of centrist views. So those of us with no principles, shakey principles, vascilating principles, wavering principles, or just plain undecided principles should definitely head on over. I'll toss up my first post here:

Gilles Duceppe finally got to respond to Paul Martin's rhetorical flourish during the English debate, during which he attacked Duceppe head on - in the brave fashion of attacking someone bound and gagged by the idiotic format of that debate. Duceppe said, "'If you're so proud of being a Canadian, Mr. Martin, why did your ships use flags of convenience? Why did your ships fly a Liberian flag, a Cypriot flag?'"

Good one. He continued, "[Paul Martin is] like Jean Chr├ętien without the courage. Because Jean Chr├ętien, at least, was willing to engage in debate."

It really speaks to the fundamental weakness of Paul Martin - that is, he can't debate. The Liberal leadership debates between Martin, Manley and Copps featured the candidates sitting down, with little direct interaction between them, and held on weekends when no reporters would be around. Clearly, that format was chosen by the Martinites, who lest we forget controlled about 95% of the party at the time. This weakness was further highlighted in 2004, when Paul Martin got smoked in both the French (by Duceppe) and English (by Harper) debates. The reason for that was that he had to actually debate with the other leaders, something he very clearly can't do. So this time around, the Liberals were sure to demand a debate format where Martin could attack without having to defend. Frankly, it's cowardly. I hope Martin wins the election, but Canadians are done a disservice when they go to watch their political leaders debate, and end up seeing a two hour campaign commercial. Even the Bush-Kerry debates were better than these ones, and that's saying something.

Duceppe very clearly agrees with me, as he wants a change. I couldn't agree more. I'm just as sure a change in debate format would be better for Canadian voters as I'm sure there's no way Martin would ever agree to a change in format.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The debate, without translators

The Opening Statements

Paul: Starts with the economy, which is definitely his strong point. Tax cuts, balanced budgets. Laundry list, followed by the National Unity card. He's definitely at his best when reading off a script.

Gilles: Moral authority to govern, buying Quebeckers. We all knew what he'd say. Gomery and sponsorship. Etc. etc.

Jack: Getting results for people - that's the buzzword, or words. Stoping privatization, and doing something about drug costs. Also mentions Broadbent's ethics package.

Stephen: Accountability, getting on with addressing the real concerns of Canadian families (like same-sex marriage?), and one wonders where he's going to get the money to fulfill all these promises. Ah well, they sound good anyway.

The Questions

Social Policy

Gay Marriage

First question is about gay marriage - damn. That's what my question was about. Does this mean it's not going to get asked?

Stephen Harper once again keeps his position muddled - he's revoke same-sex marriage, without using the notwithstanding clause.

Paul Martin: no cherry-picking among rights. We've heard this one before. He goes after Harper's inconsistent position; the job of the prime minister is to protect rights.

Jack Layton is responding directly to the questioner, by name - that's a great touch Jack. He's "very proud" of fighting for gay rights for the last twenty years. He's doing a good job this time around, not like his jumpy performance last time.

Gilles Duceppe's answer, also predictable. "Society is not really free when someone is not free." Nice one.

Paul Martin is doing pretty well on this question. He's only partially ad-libbing, but he's not stumbling as much as usual. Good on him.

Harper says that the courts should interpret the Charter... huh? Doesn't he think the courts should just accede to whatever parliament wants? I'm confused...

Guns

For the question, nice backdrop - gun store. Or maybe the guy's personal stash? Either way, lots of guns.

Paul promises to ban handguns - which, as we all know, are already banned. Is he planning on making them super-duper banned? Who knows.

The moderator says that there was an Email from a correction's officer saying the root cause of crime is poverty.

Stephen Harper disagrees - he thinks crime happens because we don't punish people hard enough.

Jack Layton once again addresses the Emailer himself - "the corrections officer says". He's playing the man of the people.

Healthcare

Blah. I'm so tired of hearing about healthcare, personally.

Uh oh, Paul's starting to stumble again.

Ethics and Governance

The Sponsorship Scandal

Yay, Stephen's favourite topic.

Paul: "I did not hesitate for one minute" to call the Gomery Inquiry. He's got a point. That's one thing I admire him for, he didn't try to cover up the scandal.

Gilles: "Give the names, so the population can know... who received that money illegally?" I don't like this new format - Paul can't respond, and flutter and stumble over that question. This format is definitely working in Martin's favour.

Harper drops Allan Cutler's name, which does add some credibility. Cutler blew the whistle on the scandal, and is now a Conservative candidate.

Layton promises proportional representation and ending corporate tax give-aways to stop para-governmental influence in government. He calls for democratic and ethical reform, etc. etc.

Martin: "Now let me mention my father, in an obligatory and awkward fashion." Oops, wrong speech.

MPs defecting

Oooh, the Belinda question!

Gilles Duceppe shrugs it off, saying "Our British parliamentary tradition works like that." I completely agree. And of course Gilles would agree - the Bloc Quebecois was formed by floor-crossers, after all. But he's quick to condemn "personal ambition".

Jack Layton opposes "hopping back and forth across the House". "The next time Belinda Stronach wants to cross the floor, she should have to go back to her voters first."

Paul Martin talks about increasing the number of free votes - which he has, of course, done, and I applaud him for. He supports floor-crossing if the party doesn't support the views of the elected MP, *cough*Belinda.

Harper: "I understand the frustration" of floor crossing. No shit, he lost one of his star MPs to it! Harper does rightly oppose legislation restricting floor crossing, as it would give too much power to the leaders. Hahah! "I find it funny that Mr. Martin wants to ban private donations when his party stole public donations." Good one.

Promise Made, Promise Kept

So, should MPs have to resign if they don't keep their promises? Sheila Copps would certainly be hesitant to agree to that one!

Legislation like that would "bog us down in the courts" says Harper.

Martin says that the electorate ought to punish parties that do not keep their promises. Hey, Paul - shut up! Don't tempt them!

Jack Layton: "He has been breaking promises for so long that he doesn't even recognize he's doing it." Another good line. And hey, he brings Bono into it too, "Bono isn't supporting him anymore." Layton lists a string of broken-promises. "Don't vote for a party that breaks its promises, send some New Democrats to make sure they're kept."

Duceppe points out that the Liberals campaigned in 1988 and 1993 against Free Trade, and yet the first thing they did when elected was change their minds. Yeah, pretty much. Fortunately, it was a good flip-flop, as free trade is a good idea.

MPs doing their jobs

Jack just got his dream question: "What will you do to make sure MPs get to work on the nation's business." Jack points out that he went to work on the budget - boy, did he ever!

Harper: Our party tried to work in a reasonable way. Hahahah! Oh, that's rich. Promising to vote for the budget, then voting against it when their poll numbers went up? Please.

Moderator says that a rock star she accompanied Question Period with was "shocked" at the behaviour. Shocking a rock star - ouch.

Jack says Canada should have more women in parliament, as the tone of the House would change. I don't know - Diane Ablonczy and Helena Guergis are women...

Side Note

Hey, uhm... does anyone notice how the moderator keeps cutting Mr. Harper off in a very terse tone?

Economy, Taxes and Trade

Childcare

Another issue I'm tired of hearing about.

The Liberals want to spend lots of money on childcare, the NDP wants to spend more, the Conservatives want to spend the same as the Liberals but instead just handing out $1200 to families instead of actually doing anything constructive. Hmm... I wasn't aware that $4 a day was enough to put children in childcare. I'll take the less expensive one that actually does something significant, thanks. The Bloc... ah, who cares.

Atlantic Canada as a Have-Not Area

Harper speaks - Atlantic Canadians boo and hiss. He has the dubious honour of being the only person ever unanimously condemned by the Nova Scotia legislature, of course, for his "culture of defeat" comments.

Renegotiating NAFTA

It's a good one - if the Americans aren't going to play by the rules, why should we?

Jack Layton - he doesn't like NAFTA. Surprised?

Martin says we have to insist that trading partners honour their agreements. Uhm... except the Americans?

Harper says we should take action and look at retaliatory measures. That's kind of a surprise, considering Canadian conservatives usually have their noses buried firmly in American arse.

Martin points out, "I went on American TV and said they were wrong on the environment. Mr. Harper went on American TV and said we were wrong not to join the Iraq war."

Harper's mic just got cut. I honestly think the moderator's out to get him... oh, so did Jack's. Nevermind.

GST vs Income Tax cuts

Uhm... okay. The question was, how do people without an income benefit from income tax cuts. Martin answered the question as if the questioner (a disabled woman) did have an income. That's a bit Orwellian.

Of course, the GST cut, as Jack called it, "A few pennies here and there". Yeah, that's pretty much what it is. Hmm... Layton's got a backstory for everything. "My family's from the east coast. They were blind and poor." Aww.

National Unity

Sovereignty

Does anyone even need to cover this one?

Paul: Boo sovereignty.

Gilles: Yay sovereignty.

Jack and Stephen: The Liberals have done more to advance sovierengty, blah blah blah.

Woah. Paul gives the most impassioned speech of the night on this one, though. He goes right after Duceppe. Demonizes him like mad. "You're not going to destroy my country... You're not gonna win, Mr. Duceppe, let me tell you that." Spoken like the hero, with Duceppe as the villain. It's too bad Duceppe couldn't come back at him. I have the feeling that, if this idiotic format were different, that exchange could have conceivably been like the famous Mulroney-Turner showdown in 1988.

Western Alienation

Bah. No one cares about the west.

No but seriously, we all know this one too. Martin favours the status quo (in more words than that), Harper favours Senate reform and fixed election dates, and Layton says New Democrats will speak for westerners when they elect them. Duceppe: "The west wants in, Quebec wants out."

What's the Big Picture: What does Canada look like in 50 Years?

I gotta give the best line here to Martin: "We are where the world is going, not where it has been."

The Closing Statements

Paul: We have made deficits a thing of the past, lowered employment to a level not seen since the early 1970's. Mr. Harper would take us off this road. Oh, Paul said Merry Christmas! War on Christmas indeed, right-winger!

Jack: Isn't it time to elect people who will work for us? Cleaning up corruption, doing more of what the NDP has already done. Oh, even the socialist said Christmas. Damn!

Gilles: The Liberals have to be sanctioned for all their sins. Yup, we know, we know. Though he does point out that not one elected Liberal has been sanctioned. Yes Gilles, that's very true. Ooh, more Christmas. Can't let the others have that one.

Stephen: A pretty good closing for Stephen too. Oh, wait for it, wait for it - Merry Christmas, there it is.

Final Thoughts:

This format is SO BORING. Just thinking about past debates makes me wish they could actually, you know, DEBATE each other! This is so ridiculous, it's just a bunch of talking heads.

Oh, and also... they didn't use my question. Damn.

Shameless Self Promotion

Well, tonight's the English leaders' debate, which for me means one thing - I'm (probably) going to be on TV. That's right, I was filmed asking a question, so watch for me. Am I looking forward to embarassing myself on national television? No, but I suppose neither are the leaders, and yet there they are, about to do it again. But in all seriousness, I am actually kind of worried about how I'll look. I'd pulled an all-nighter to finish an essay, so I looked disshevelled and hermit-like, and they filmed me asking it in front of the courthouse, on top of a hill, with the sun beaming down directly into my eyes, causing them to water profusely, in extreme cold so I'm shaking like a leaf. Should be great!

The debate on the chefs (stupid translator...)

The French debate was pretty boring, especially because I don't understand the language, and I've been conditioned by Asian entertainment to HATE bad dubs... which is also why I don't usually watch Question Period when the Bloc is speaking, 'cause they never bloody well talk in English. I would much rather they just broadcast it on a five-minute delay or something and stick subtitles in instead. The voices of translators can be annoying... and they fuck up. One said, "You've made tens of thousands of dollars worth or promises"... another mixed some words up, referring to Paul Martin as "Mr. Mudget", while talking about the budget.

If you're looking for some good and amusing commentary on the debate, look no further:

It's minute-by-minute coverage.

I don't much like the new format, it's too... American. Then again, with four leaders, it's hard to have a free-for-all. The CBC reminded us of why they changed the format by broadcasting a memorable segment from the 2004 English debate in which all four leaders were talking over each other for about two minutes straight about same-sex marriage, with Martin attacking Harper on the Charter, Layton accusing Martin of "hiding behind the Charter", Martin trying to simultaneously attack Harper and defend against Layton, and Duceppe rambling on about... I don't know, probably adscam. At the end, Martin just kind of threw up his hands and shook his head because no one could hear him anyway. So yeah, on second thought, this new format is quite good.

Anyway I hope tomorrow's is more exciting...

Oh, and I was also one of the people filmed asking a question, so watch for me!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

What Harper thinks of Canada

Ever wonder why Stephen Harper had such a hard time with the question, "Do you love Canada?"

Now, I'm all for criticizing one's own country. I do it myself, sometimes; for example, for our seemingly neurotic inability to have a mature debate about healthcare - a neurosis fostered by the Liberal Party, much to my chagrin. However, something I would never do, not in a million years, would be to stand up in front of a bunch of far-right Americans - who, do we need to be reminded, already hate this country, and proceed to suck up to them by confirming all of their worst nightmares about Canada, and reassure them as to why the United States is the better country. I'll leave you to read the entire speech, but here are some glowing extracts. Read them with this in mind: do you really want a man who thinks these things about our country and its people leading it?

[I]t's legendary that if you're like all Americans, you know almost nothing except for your own country. Which makes you probably knowledgeable about one more country than most Canadians.

Hahah, do you get it? Canadians are ignorant! Isn't that a funny joke to be telling an American audience? Oh, I'm rolling on the floor, let me tell you.

Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it.

Stephen Harper very clearly doesn't know much about the Northern European welfare states if he thinks Canada is anything like them. They have a tax rate which makes ours look low, and social programs cover pretty much every aspect of life.

In terms of the unemployed, of which we have over a million-and-a-half, don't feel particularly bad for many of these people. They don't feel bad about it themselves, as long as they're receiving generous social assistance and unemployment insurance.

Stephen Harper on the unemployed: Don't feel sorry for them, they want to be unemployed!

[T]he NDP is kind of proof that the Devil lives and interferes in the affairs of men.

Har har.

Oh, one of my personal favourites:

Some people point out that there is a small element of clergy in the NDP. Yes, this is true. But these are clergy who, while very committed to the church, believe that it made a historic error in adopting Christian theology.

Apparently, you can't be a New Democrat and a Christian at the same time.

Oh silly me, I forgot. Christianity isn't about helping the poor and tolerance anymore, now it's all about hating gays and protesting abortion. I do have trouble keeping abreast of these things.

It believes in gay rights, although it's fairly cautious. It's put sexual orientation in the Human Rights Act and will let the courts do the rest.

Reminder: Stephen Harper DOES NOT believe that gays should be protected by the Human Rights Act, which prohibits such things as firing someone for being gay. If you're cool with that, then I imagine you're already voting for Harper. If you think that's a little iffy, remember, that's what the man who wants to be your prime minister believes.

[The Progressive Conservatives] were in favour of gay rights officially, officially for abortion on demand.

Former PCs (like myself), remember, this is what Stephen Harper REALLY thinks, despite what he says now. Abortion should not be allowed, and being in favour of gay people have rights is a bad thing, too.

The Reform party is very much a modern manifestation of the Republican movement in Western Canada.

I just thought I'd add that in there, because a lot of right-wingers like to tell me that the Conservatives aren't like the Republicans, and they're taking great pains to deny it to the Canadian public, also.

[The NDP's] main concern, of course, is simply the left-wing agenda to basically disintegrate our society in all kinds of spectrums.

Boy, for a party that he says doesn't matter, he certainly spends a lot of time attacking it. Also, does anyone else find it funny how much the "disintegration of society" talk echoes what the family values Republicans are always talking about?

The [Charlottetown Accord] included distinct society status for Quebec and some other changes, including some that would just horrify you, putting universal Medicare in our constitution, and feminist rights, and a whole bunch of other things.

Okay, I can understand being against putting universal medicare in the constitution, but being opposed to womens' rights? Oh, Mr. Harper... Leave It To Beaver ended decades ago - get over it!

Actually, that could pretty much be my response to every "social values" question posed by conservatives.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Smilin' Socialist

Paper Dynamite Online made a post recently which inspired a term-papered-out, highly- caffeinated and sleep-deprived me to edit this together between sips of heavily-steeped green tea (which I'm told has more caffeine than coffee) and trying in vain to understand Martin Heidegger:

To NDP supporters: 'tis all in good fun. I would never imply that Jack Layton is in any way like Vladimir Lenin... except the fact that they could have been separated at birth...

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Post-Election Cabinet

Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself, but... what do you think the cabinet will look like after the election?

Will Anne McLellan get knocked off and replaced?

Will Stockwell Day be this country's face to the world? (God no...)

Will Jack Layton be Minister of Finance?

Will the one seat the Greens elect be enough to put the Liberals into a majority and Andrew Lewis becomes Environment Minister?

Let's keep in mind that a number of current cabinet ministers could very well be knocked off, most notably:
  • Tony Valeri (House Leader)

  • Liza Frulla (Heritage and Status of Women)

  • Jean Lapierre (Transport and Quebec Lieutenant)

  • Pierre Pettigrew (Foreign Affairs)

  • Anne McLellan (Deputy Prime Minister and Public Safety)

  • Andy Mitchell (Indian Affairs)

  • Ethel Blondin-Andrew (Northern Development

  • David Emerson (Industry)

  • Jacques Saada (La Francophonie and Quebec Economic Development

  • Aileen Carroll (International Cooperation)

  • Carolyn Bennett (Public Health)

  • Tony Ianno (Families and Caregivers)


If at least three cabinet minister don't get knocked off, I will be surprised.

Not to mention, John Efford (Natural Resources) isn't running again.



If Frulla goes, I think a perfect replacement would be Ruby Dhalla - she's young and smart, not to mention photogenic (ie: beautiful), and reflects multiculturalism. Plus, she's a woman, which you've gotta be to be responsible for status of women. And it's kind of a fluffy ministry, so it's a good one for a neophyte to cut their teeth on. Another idea is to divide this one up - Status of Women, and Heritage - and give the former to Dhalla and the latter to Michael Ignatieff, who will also need an insignificant cabinet spot to cut his teeth on, and what better than a Canadian historian for Heritage?

If Emerson goes, the obvious replacement is Belinda Stronach. She ran the largest auto-parts manufacturer in Canada. I think she's qualified for Industry. Plus, she's gotten good lately - much less android-like, and much more relaxed and natural. She's really come a long way in 20 months.

If Lapierre goes (god willing), and quite frankly even if he doesn't go, I think he should be replaced with someone who likes the sound of his own voice a bit less. Stephane Dion is a good one for Quebec Lieutenant. As for Transport... uhm... that's a good one to give to a newbie. I'd say Maurizio Bevilacqua is a good one for Transport.

Pettigrew - obviously Foreign Affairs goes back to Bill Graham, who was clearly not happy about losing it to Pettigrew.

McLellan may be on her last legs here. Deputy PM should go to a Martin loyalist who is aspiring to lead the party. Scott Brison could very well be Paul Martin's John Manley. Plus, Martin's GOTTA reward Brison with SOMETHING after giving him that god-awful Public Works appointment and making him answer sponsorship questions for the past 18 months.

I'm of the opinion that Indian Affairs should be given to an Indian, preferably one who has lived on a reserve. If there's none in caucus, go outside of caucus. Or appoint an aboriginal person to the Senate. Let the parliamentary secretary answer questions in the House.

Northern Development would probably just go to another Northerner. Maybe both ND and IA could go to Nancy Karetak-Lindell? She's Inuit, and she's from the North. Perfect.

International Cooperation is fluffy - does anyone actually know what it is? I say just eliminate it entirely, but if you need to keep it around to use it as patronage, just give it to some loyalist backbencher who wants to be in cabinet.

As for La Francophonie, it really doesn't matter. Someone from Quebec. Anyone, really.

If Carolyn Bennett gets knocked off by Peter Kent, again, I'd say just eliminate the department altogether and merge it with Health, but if you need to keep it around, again, competent but loyalist backbencher who wants a cabinet spot. If she is re-elected, I think she should replace Ujjal Dosanjh as Health Minister; she's a medical doctor, he's a crony. Not hard to see the best choice here. Stick Dosanjh into "Minister Responsible for Making Sure the BC Loss of 2001 Never Happens Again". (ie: exploring PR options)

Yeah, Ianno's probably gone. This is another good one to just use as a reward for some random backbencher.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Third day in a row

Liberals - 41
Conservatives - 26
NDP - 18
Bloc - 11
Greens - 4

For the third day in a row, SES' daily tracking poll has the Liberals up and the Conservatives down. The first shock was when the Liberals hit 40, to the Tories' 28. The next day, the Tories dropped to 26. Today, the Liberals go up to 41.

All within the margin of error of course, but I'm noticing a trend - after all, two points make a line, three make a pattern.

Add to that the fact that both the government and the Liberals typically do worse in the polls than they do on election day, and we could be looking at a majority government. I mean, with those numbers, the most seats the Tories could expect to win would be 80, if they were lucky. As for the Bloc, it needs to stay hovering around 14 in order to make any substantial gains; a drop or increase of one point for the Bloc is huge compared to the other parties, since they only run in Quebec, hence why their national numbers are always so low but they always do so well. The fact that they're down to 11 - and have been for a few days - is really a bad sign for them, and a good sign for the Liberals. The Liberals' primary goal in Quebec this time would realistically be keeping the 21 seats they have, but if they could actually take some Bloc seats back, they would definitely be in majority government territory. A swing of only 20 seats across the whole country from the opposition to the Liberals is, after all, all it would take, and with these numbers, they could very well pull it off.

Rummy's Out; Lieberman's In

At least, that's the buzz. To quote Don Newman, "Holy Mackrel!"

"Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld hosted Sen. Joe Lieberman for a breakfast meeting Thursday amid speculation that the Connecticut Democrat could be in line to succeed him."

What this could mean is that Bush is finally realizing that his Iraq policy has been a spectacular failure. Most people figured this out months, if not years, ago of course. If this is true, Bush would essentially be admitting some form of wrong-doing - a momentous occassion indeed for a man who absolutely refuses to apologize for anything, and seems to pathologically believe that whatever he does is right, no matter what it is or how fatally - in this case literally - mismanaged it is.

Rummy should have gone ages ago. Bush should have gone in 2004 for not sacking him to begin with. Let's hope this is true; only new blood could possibly fix the mess that is Iraq.

Essays: Proportional Representation and the Iraq War. Oh, and porn hax.

I have recently written an essay in favour of proportional representation. It is quite long, and I apologize for that, but there was a lot that needed to be said. I also linked to an essay I wrote a couple of year ago in favour of the war in Iraq. That one, I'm sure, will be more contentious. If anyone reads it of course.

PS: To all new Liberal Bloggers. Stop making your names come before mine in the alphabet, you're starting to knock me down the list. :)

PPS: It also seems that Progressive Calgary has either been hacked by porn promoters, or is very, very horny. Who knows?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Godwin bitchslaps Jean Lapierre

Attention - Message to the Liberal Party of Canada: Stop letting Jean Lapierre talk. Right NOW.

It seems that Calgary Grit's recommendation to the Bloc that they keep a microphone in front of Jean Lapierre at all times was a good one (did anyone expect otherwise?)

Jean Lapierre was quite happy to break Godwin's law today, which states that anyone who makes a hyperbolic reference to Hitler or the Nazis immediately loses the debate. In response to Gilles Duceppe's stated desire to make the Liberals "disappear" from the province of Quebec, Lapierre stated, "That kind of language, where you say you want to make your opponents disappear, there's a little bit of a Nazi tone in that."

Do I even need to elaborate on how incredibly stupid this was? I hope not.

To add more embarassment, Gilles Duceppe - already the victim of a Nazi comparison - actually publicly apologized for the tone of his "disappear" remarks, clarifying that he only meant that he wanted as many people to vote for the Bloc as possible. As if any reasonable person would think anything else! Gilles Duceppe is not a Nazi. There is no conceivable way to make him look like a Nazi (without a photoshop editor, that is). Jean Lapierre's idiocy was on full display for everyone to see.

Honestly, I hope he loses. If the Bloc has to win one more seat, I hope it's his, simply for that unabashedly moronic statement. He deserves to lose for that one. And frankly, the Liberal Party would be much better off without him in the House. There is no place in the Canadian House of Commons for people who would say such reprehensible things about decent people.

I disagree with Gilles Duceppe on a great many issues, but he is a man, who cares passionately for democracy and freedom, and who I know would stand against any policy which could be labelled "Nazi". And the fact his reaction to being called a Nazi was actually to apologize just goes to show how profoundly decent a man he is. He's probably been called worse things by better people, to coin a memorable phrase, but still, it's not the reaction I would have had, and I have to give mad kudos to M. Duceppe for his outstanding display of civility and humility.

And as for how to deal with M. Lapierre... my recommendation has already been made. Stop letting him speak. Keep him as quiet as Cheryl Gallant was towards the end of the 2004 campaign. And for the love of god, if he has to be in cabinet again, don't make him the Quebec lieutenant. Give that position to someone who deserves it, like Stephane Dion.

This is disappointing. I had thought that the first outrageous statement of the campaign would have been made by a Tory.

"By the way guys - I'm still a bigot. Just thought I'd remind you."

Okay. I can agree that people who did not support changing the definition of marriage last summer were not all bigots. The fact is, many people who have no real problem with gays just didn't agree with the logic, and were perfectly happy to use civil unions instead. I disagree, but I can deal with that. One is not necessarily homophobic for holding such a position.

This lunatic, on the other hand, is. Pat O'Brien, who is known to most people as the Liberal who bolted over same-sex marriage - definitely a one-issue kind of guy to be sure - is continuing to fight the fight that no one wants to fight. After the bill was passed, 55% of Canadians agreed that the issue was closed and should not be opened again. That number has probably gone up, as people have moved on with their lives and realized that it's not a big deal. Only about 1/3 of those polled - coincidentally, the same number of people who opposed both marriage and civil unions - agreed that the debate should be re-opened.

These guys are really having a difficult time facing the facts. The issue is closed, and they lost. Turning back the clock never works. The most Pat O'Brien's efforts could accomplish would be to force the Supreme Court to overturn the traditional definition of marriage. They have lost on every front - political, judicial, and public opinion. Yet they keep on fighting in the name of intolerance, hatred, and all the things that Canadians have been working for the last few generations to purge from our society, as embarassing reminders of our racist, homophobic and intolerant past.

Let's be perfectly clear about this. Pat O'Brien does not consider gays to be equal. He has said as much in the House of Commons during the debate. Tory MP Rona Ambrose said she considers gays to be of equal worth, and O'Brien stood up to object to this. And here is where the difference is outline - Rona Ambrose opposed same-sex marriage, but that does not make her a bigot. Pat O'Brien's inability to abide Ambrose's "outrageous" declaration of moral equality is what makes him a bigot.

He is endorsing Stephen Harper on one issue and one issue alone: same-sex marriage. That is what makes him a bigot.

He voted no-confidence in the government on one issue - same-sex marriage. That is what makes him a bigot.

He is pathologically obsessed with denying gays equal status in our society, to the point where he is willing to fight a losing battle over and over again, until he gets his way, and the clock is turned back. That is what makes him a bigot.

Michael Bliss pointed out in his book "Right Honourable Men" that attempting to turn back the clock is an exercise in futility, and that people don't like clock-turners, citing this as a reason for the poor Conservative performance during the King and St. Laurent years. He is completely right. The issue has been settled. Just like after desegregation was implemented in the United States, there remained pockets of resistance. This is to be expected. The best way to deal with those pockets of bigotry and hatred is to marginalize them, the same way we marginalize the racists and the anti-semites, so to should we marginalize the homophobes. They have no place in a civilized, tolerant society, and it's time they knew that they are no longer in charge.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Questions for the Dear Leaders

Canadians are being invited to submit their own questions to be considered for the leaders debate to question@electiondebate.ca.

I figured I'd submit one, and did so:

This is a question for Mr. Harper in particular, though I invite other leaders to comment on it.

Recently you promised to re-open the debate on same-sex marriage. Given that the supreme courts in 8 provinces and 1 territory have already ruled that it is unconstitutionally discriminatory to refuse gays and lesbians access to marriage, the only way to bring back the opposite-sex only definition of marriage would be to use the constitutional override, the notwithstanding clause; and the courts in the last two provinces and territories would likely agree with the other nine, as would the Supreme Court of Canada if they had to make a decision. That being said, my question is this: if the courts all, including the Supreme Court, agreed that denying gays and lesbians access to marriage was unconstitutional, which once again nine courts already have, would you use the notwithstanding clause to override those decisions - yes or no?

It's a fair question, I feel, and I don't think Stephen Harper has given a straight answer on it, no pun intended. He always just seems to dodge the issue by claiming that the opposite sex only definition is not unconstitutional - which, of course, nine courts have already ruled that that they disagree with him about that. I really would like to know the answer to this.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Maybe he should concentrate on real crime

Not that it was unexpected, but Stephen Harper has a plan to combat the "scourge" of drugs.

Maybe he should ask the US what their drug war costs every year - how many hundreds of billions was that again? I always forget. "Mandatory minimums" are not what we need with regards to drugs. If you want to keep marijuana out of the hands of kids, regulate it and sell it only to adults. And if you want to keep it out of the hands of adults, you have no respect for individual choice, anyway, so why not criminalize alcohol, too? The government really has no business deciding what adults do with their own time unless they are harming others in doing so.

If he wanted to introduce a law and order agenda, he should be talking about actual crime, with a perpetrator and a victim, not victimless "crimes" like smoking marijuana - which nearly every Canadian after a certain generation has done, and most people think should be legal anyway. Or better yet, he could propose alternative solutions to drugs, as opposed to just pouring more resources into a futile drug war. The best way to combat organized crime is to cut off their revenue - and the best way to do that is to make it legal, and if it's potentially dangerous, regulate the hell out of it to keep it controlled and, most importantly, out of the hands of minors, who are able to obtain it ridiculously easily at the moment. Prohibition was the greatest gift ever given to organized crime; the prohibition of alcohol allowed them to gain a monopoly on it and sell it illegally, funding their operations. Likewise, decriminalizing alcohol was a huge blow, as they lost a major source of revenue. And to return to an earlier point, when alcohol was illegal, there were no age caps - kids could buy it just as easily as adults, because the gangsters didn't much care who they were selling it to. The single best way to keep drugs out of the hands of children - and respecting the choices of adults - and combating organized crime is legalization and regulation, not wasting money and police resources on a useless, harmful and futile war against drugs.

Support Canadian Democracy

I'd like to take a moment to be completely non-partisan. Regardless of who you're voting for, I encourage everyone to sign this petition protesting the exclusion, once again, of the Green Party from the leaders' debates. It doesn't matter if you're voting for them or not, the Greens are a viable political party, despite what some elitists might say. They run candidates in every riding across Canada, they received the support of well over half a million Canadians in the 2004 election, and qualify for federal funding.

This blatant abuse of democracy by the media corporations should not be tolerated by citizens of this country. The media should not be allowed to silence a voice - the media is supposed to make voices heard! - representing approximately five percent of Canadians, and potentially many, many more if they were allowed to debate. Ross Perot's participation and performance in the presidential debates in the United States increased his vote count, and even though no one realistically expected him to win, he was allowed to participate anyway.

The NDP in the 1993 election only received 6.88% of the vote, and yet Audrey McLaughlin was still allowed to participate in the debate. The Greens polled only a couple of points below that, and in some polls are as high as 8%. Preston Manning was allowed to participate, despite fighting to stay in double-digits in the polls - and look what he was able to do with that performance. Lucien Bouchard, representing an ad-hoc rainbow coalition in parliament, was allowed to participate. Both Bouchard and Gilles Duceppe have been allowed to participate - and they're separatists! Surely if we can allow separatists who only run candidates in one province to participate we can allow a federalist party with support across the country? Surely if the leaders of fourth and fifth parties could participate in the past, we can allow it again this time?

On this one issue we should all put aside our political differences. Liberal, Tory, NDP, Bloc, it shouldn't matter. It is an offence to us as citizens to have this voice censored. They are saying we're not allowed to hear the Green Party's message. There's something profoundly undemocratic about that.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Down with handpicked candidates! Part II

Seems this "Allan Cutler was acclaimed because the Tories disqualified his only rival" story has actually been a story since before tonight - I'm surprised no one (that I know of) picked up on it.

Now, this blog has grown a bit more popular than in previous months, probably because of the election. I seem to be pissing off a lot of Tories who are saying some nasty things about me in the comments. Well, like Stephen Harper said, if they're attacking me, I must be doing something right. Take this story for instance - I said that the CBC was reporting it on The National tonight - in fact, I was watching the TV as I was typing. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a link right away, leading some to, shall we say, question my integrity. One even threatened a libel suit! (I feel so special, no one's ever threatened to sue me before.)

Well, there's your proof. I can't find a quote for the riding association head, but the CBC did report it, so I imagine it will be up on their website soon enough. I'll be sure to post it here once I find it. Wouldn't want to be called a liar again!

EDIT: Speak of the devil, there it is. Thanks to HisHighness from Liberal for Life.

Appears Ridell was offered a deal to step down - the Tories would pay his campaign debts for him. When he did step down, the party said there were "no strings attached", and has thus far not honoured their deal.

The riding assocition executive's name is Neil McFadden, who called Harper a "hypocrite". The letter said Harper should not "covertly orchestrate the assassination of other candidates".

There you go, boys. Sue me!

Down with handpicked candidates!

The CBC is reporting on The National tonight that Allan Cutler, star conservative candidate for Ottawa South and the sponsorship whistleblower, was handpicked for the riding, and Alan Ridell - who ran in the riding in 2004 - was disqualified from running this time around to ensure that the star got to run instead.

A head of the Conservative riding association there has called Stephen Harper a "hypocrite" for denouncing handpicked candidates by the Liberals, but engaging in the practice himself.

He's right, of course - isn't that the very definition of hypocrisy?

Of course, I'm against the handpicking of candidates as well, and while I think that we definitely do need more people like Michael Ignatieff - by merit of his academic excellence - and Allan Cutler - by merit of his outstanding ethics - in Ottawa, they should have to contest the nomination just like everybody else, under fair rules which prohibit hostile takeovers and other abuses of the process in riding associations.

I thought Stephen Harper and I were in agreement about this particular issue - I guess we're not.

Star Spangled Canada

Just so we're clear on this, we all know who George Bush and the Republicans are rooting for, right?

In case you needed a little reminder, an American news outlet has been happy to oblige.

"Why does President Bush hope Christmas comes a little late this year? Because on Jan. 23, Canada may elect the most pro-American leader in the Western world. Free-market economist Stephen Harper, leader of the opposition Conservative Party, is pro-free trade, pro-Iraq war, anti-Kyoto, and socially conservative. Move over Tony Blair: If elected, Mr. Harper will quickly become Mr. Bush's new best friend internationally and the poster boy for his ideal foreign leader."

Why thank you. It's nice to have an outside observer - and a right-wing one at that! - remind us that the Conservative Party wants Canada to bow down and kiss American boot.

Now I know I'm going to be accused of fearmongering by some Anonymous poster in my comments section - the irony of having a hidden name while denying a hidden agenda is not lost on me (nor is the fact that I probably just misused the word irony) - but these are serious issues that Harper very much seems to want to avoid. I wonder why?

Exactly what I'm talking about

Kim Campbell says Stephen Harper can't win because he's too socially conservative.

I've always thought it a shame that Kim Campbell didn't get a chance to show the country what she had to offer.

Well anyway, it appears that we can add yet another former Tory prime minister (along with Joe Clark) to those who will attest that this new Conservative party is not the Progressive Conservative party of old; that in fact, it is something completely new.

And to top it all off, she comes out in favour of proportional representation and Senate reform.

Campbell for PM! I know, I know... let me dream.

The right wing on display for all to see

It doesn't get much more revealing than this. Scare tactics? I don't think so: this is directly from the comments section of this very blog. This is what Stephen Harper and the Conservatives believe; these are the types of values they want governing this country. These comments are unaltered; decide for yourself if these are Canadian values you support:

Abortion is murder plain and simple as that. If the girl did not want to get preganet she should have never had sex until she was married.

Death Penalty - once an individual has been found guilty of murder by a group of thier peers in a court of law they should pay the price of the crime that they did. Rapists, murders and criminals in general have more rights then I do as a honest, hard working tax paying citizen.

Outlawing the teaching of evolution in schools - creationism and evolution are nothing more then theories. Neither one has been proven or disproven. I can know more prove to you that God created earth then you can prove to me that evolution is a proven science. The missing link has never been proven.

Criminalizing of homosexual sex - first off it is not a criminal offense to participate in homosexual activities. It is just not reconized as marriage. Secondly, it is just part of the slippery slope. Where does it stop? What is next legalizing child pronography because it is after intolerant of you to tell what I can and can't watch. (I personally think that child pronography is the most abhorent thing someone can do, but it illustates my point)
Scary, isn't it? This is straight from the horse's mouth. Conservatives want to criminalize abortion, bring back the death penalty, think that evolution is just a "theory" and has just as much scientific validity as creationism, and consider same-sex marriage to be roughly equivalent to legalizing child pornography.

Scare tactics indeed! Maybe we wouldn't be so scared if the Conservatives didn't hold these values!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Welcome, South Africa, to a very exclusive club

South Africa is well on its way to becoming the fifth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. The first legal same-sex marriage in South Africa has already taken place.

This would make South Africa the fifth country - after the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Canada, to enshrine gay and lesbian equality in the most profound way possible - with a recognition that gay relationships are just as valid and loving as straight ones.

South Africa is particularly significant, because their policy of apartheid - a racist and degrading policy openly and enthusiastically supported by Conservative MP Rob Anders - was known around the world, and they have been iconic in shedding their discriminatory past and building an inclusive, tolerant, liberal democracy. This is a testament to just how far they've come - twenty years ago, who would have thought that South Africa would be further along in the fight for equality than much of Europe, and lightyears ahead of the United States?

It's also a testament to how much the Conservative party has changed. The types of religious fanatics I talked about in my previous post want to take Canada off that list of five countries, and Stephen Harper is playing their game. Who would have thought that the party of Brian Mulroney - who to his great credit fought twenty years ago for an end to apartheid - would have been hijacked by people who support South African apartheid, and who want to implement their own brand of it against gays and lesbians in this country?

It's shameful, and former Progressive Conservatives (like me), and members of the progressive wing of the Conservative Party should think long and hard about the type of far-right fanatics they'd be supporting by supporting Stephen Harper, Stockwell Day and Rob Anders' Conservatives.

Onward Christian Soldiers

Marching as to war, one of the architects of the fundamentalist takeover of American politics is here in Canada, trying to engineer the same thing. Ralph Reed, a huge player in the American Religious Right, who helped elect Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr., and served as a senior advisor to George Bush Jr., is up here in our country trying to hijack our tolerant values in favour of a far-right agenda.

"Come January 23rd", he said, "there's going to be a new Canada of conservative traditional values."

Well, isn't that just nice and disturbing? Canadian have to ask themselves: is that the kind of Canada they want? Remember, in the United States, where Reed hails from, "traditional values" is actually code for restricting a woman's right to choose, instating the death penalty, outlawing the teaching of evolution in schools and criminalizing homosexual sex. And they want to turn Canada into a carbon copy of the kind of intolerant, anti-science place that many states in the US are under the rule of these types of fanatics.

And doesn't it sort of go without saying that they're supporting the Conservative Party?

Chretien is a Liberal

I've seen some pretty wild things said about Jean Chretien by other Liberals, including allegations that he is not a true Liberal, and that he has no loyalty to the party.

Chretien was elected in 1963 as a Liberal; one assumes he was a Liberal before that. Frankly, Jean Chretien has been a Liberal for longer than most of today's pundits have been alive. It is insulting to say that a former prime minister, the former leader of his party, is disloyal to the party.

Is he disloyal to Paul Martin? Of course he is - and Paul deserves it. Does anyone honestly believe that you can stage a hostile take-over of a party, usurp the current leader, a sitting prime minister, and not feel some backlash? Perhaps Jean Chretien would be more likely to be helpful if, for example...
  • He hadn't been overthrown in an organized coup by a disloyal cabinet minister
  • His people weren't being vilified and turfed from the party
  • He wasn't being portrayed as persona non grata by the Martin team
Frankly, it's outrageous that people expect Jean Chretien to help, in any way, a man who betrayed him.

Now, my name for this blog is BlueGrit, and there is a reason for that - I am definitely towards the right of the party, and so I supported Martin in general over Chretien. However, I cannot support the way he took over the party, crushed all opposition to him, and essentially purged everyone he didn't like from the party.