Friday, March 31, 2006

There's the Conservative Party I Know and Love!

At least now we know why Harper is keeping a muzzle on his MPs - because they like to say boneheaded things like, for examples, "Let's jail reporters." A finer example of the latent fascism existent in the Conservative caucus can not be given. It's certainly a great reminder for those of us who missed these little outbursts during the election campaign.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Ignatieff's speech

I've gotta say, he impresses me more every time he speaks. Read for yourself.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Who do they think they are?

I would like to issue an open letter to the members of the Cabinet of Canada, on behalf of... well, myself, but I imagine many (most) would agree:

You are not the Cabinet of a monarch in anything but name. You are not chosen by a monarch in any way but ceremonially. You are, for all intents and purposes and in all practicality, servants of the citizens of Canada. You are to perform the tasks delegated to you by the people who elected you. You are to perform these tasks well, or when it is time for your bi/tri/quadra-ennial review, you will be fired.

Part of your job is to tell us what you are doing. You are remiss in your duties when you refuse to speak to those who would inform us of what you are doing. You do not have the privilege of secrecy. People of your occupation are regarded with ever-increasing suspicion, and attempting to hide from the voters, either by banning their presence outside of your clandestine meetings, or entering your workplace through the back door (past the dumpsters) does nothing to preclude these fears; in fact, it gives just reason for these fears to take over, and likely inform our mood when your performance evaluation comes up.

Let me put it bluntly: we are not amused. You are not dictators. You are not oligarchs, autocrats, or princes. You are democrats, in a democratic system, and you do not have the right, despite your wishes to the contrary, to govern without the support of the people. Straighten up, or we'll straighten you up. And start by giving your reports - we want them on our desk by Monday.

(Posted at Centrerion)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Iggy Politely Smacks Down His Critics

Courtesy of C-SPAN and care of Paper Dynamite Online, I present to you the truth: Michael Ignatieff Does Not Support Torture. It's been said many times in many ways, but in this C-SPAN interview about his book The Lesser Evil, Ignatieff gracefully and eloquently sets the record straight. It's a great interview, and he is certainly good at defending his point of view. It also has implications for his skills as a politician: not only is he good at defending his views, he is also good at defending himself against vile, ugly smears and attacks by the right-wing assholes (watch the interview, you'll see what I mean) who call in to attack him personally. Perhaps this can alleviate the concerns of the anti-Iggy crowd who have - either through ignorance or through malice - been spreading false rumours about his support for torture. I think you'll find that, in his own words, he is quite emphatically against it. Don't believe me? Watch the interview for yourself. He's not only against it, he takes heat from the right-wing about it. What more do we need?

Just a warning, it is about 45 minutes long.

(Posted at Centrerion)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

This Adoption Thing

(Cross-posted at Centrerion)

As anyone who follows the stirring "moral" debates that happen south of the border probably already knows, there has been a row in Massachusetts over the "right" of the Catholic Church to impose their insane "values" on others, even to the detriment of children. Basically, Catholic Charities of Boston acts on behalf of the state and places children in foster homes. However, in a violation of the state's non-discrimination laws, the Vatican instructed the organization to stop placing children in homes with same-sex parents.

Article after self-righteous article have condemned this move, this one even making the ridiculous assertion that the "religious freedom" of the Catholic Church has been a missing angle from the debate. I don't know how exactly such a statement can be made, given how many articles, some of them civil, some of them downright homophobic, I have already read on the subject of the supposed "violation" of the Catholic Church's rights.

Some facts which are often missing from the debate include the fact that every single board member of Catholic Charities of Boston disagreed with the Vatican's decision and had to be brow-beaten into taking their homophobic stand, and in fact eight of them stepped down in protest. There is also the fact that, of the 720 children they have placed in homes over the past 2 decades, only 13 of them were placed in homes with same-sex parents. That's less than 2%. And finally, Catholic Charities acted on behalf of the state, not as an independent organization.

With all that in mind, the entire issue becomes much clearer.

First of all, the right to religious freedom is irrelevant here. Regardless of religion, regardless of personal moral code, and regardless of any belief one may have about anything, the fact is that if you are acting on behalf of the state, then you must accept the rules of the state.

Second, many people have blamed gays, in expressions of typical bigotry, for putting their rights ahead of the needs of children, including Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is becoming more and more anti-gay by the day as he prepares for a run at the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. However, if gays are fair game here, then so is the Catholic Church. Is it not fair to say that the Vatican is putting the needs of children secondary to their own outdated "moral" code, so much so that they forced the well-meaning and good-hearted members of the organization to go against what they clearly felt was best for the children?

Third, the children placed with same-sex parents were placed in such households not because of gay rights activists or because of political correctness - they were placed in those homes because the members of Catholic Charities felt that same-sex parents, whether they agreed or disagreed with the concept, were better than no parents at all, something any reasonable person would agree to, especially if said reasonable person knows anything about the nightmarish foster care system. The options were simple - gay parents, or not parents at all. With that in mind, who is truly being unreasonable here? The phantom "gay rights activists", who did nothing, or the Catholic Church which proactively shut down an organization that wanted nothing more than to help children in any way possible?

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Iraqi Embassy Attacks Christian Peacemaker Teams

(Cross-posted at Centrerion)

In a statement calling the CPT "phony pacifists," the Iraqi embassy in Canada has condemned the Christian Peacemaker Teams former hostages as being on the side of the jihadists, Hussein-loyalists, and al-Qaeda, as a result of their own naivete.

Now, normally I'm not one for attacking the victim. But in this case, much as I hate to say it, I think Michelle Malkin was correct when she attack CPT for using this incident as a grounds to condemn the war, rather than to thank the excellent work done by Canadian, American and British forces in saving the lives of the hostages who were, let's not forget, in Iraq of their own accord.

It does of course show the limitless barbarism of the Islamists that they would be willing to kill people (starting with Tom Fox) who were only in Iraq out of a desire for peace. It does not excuse, however, the CPT's seizing upon this incident to not only condemn the war, but to blame the Americans and the British for the kidnapping of the four activists. That is truly beyond the pale. Let me say this: when the United States participates in a mission, alongside Canada, and led by the British, to rescue the surviving members of your organization from the hands of murderous thugs, you do not respond by blaming them for the actions of the murderous thugs. You issue a heartfelt "thank you."

As I said, I am against attacking the victims. But I am just as emphatically against attacking the heroes.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Let them eat cake

I'm not the first person who called Barbara Bush "Marie Antoinette." I think the first person I heard use the phrase was Bill Maher, and also Andrew Sullivan. (Maher went a bit further and appropriately called her a "bitch" on his show.) You may remember Bush saying that the poor black people of New Orleans should be happy that Katrina hit because now they're better off than they were before.

To add injury to insult, she's made a "charitable" donation to Katrina relief... but she's earmarked it to ensure that it can only be used to buy educational equipment from Neil Bush's (AKA her son's) software company.

You gotta hand it to 'em, this Bush family really knows their cronyism. Between Halliburton, the Saudi dictators and their own family, is there any amount they wouldn't spend to say "Screw you"?

It doesn't take long, does it?

It wasn't terribly long ago that the current prime minister was lambasting the former prime minister(s) for not allowing for the appointment of an ethics watchdog. In addition, Conservatives across the country have been complaining about a lack of ethics in government for god only knows how long. (Actually, since about 1993, before that they were oddly silent...)

And yet now, popular opinion among Conservatives, at least those that I've read and spoken to, seems to be that the ethics commissioner is a waste of money who should be scrapped. Of course, they say, it has nothing to do with the fact that they are now in government. No, they would never do something like that. Conservatives are the chosen people!

All sarcasm aside, isn't it about time conservatives stopped pretending to be paragons of ethical behaviour, and stopped using the tired old excuse that, "The Liberals are worse!" Oh you know the drill. A favourite of theirs is, "You're letting the perfect be the enemy of the good," a phrase they bandy about as if they invented it.

Sorry, but that's just not good enough. If you campaign on ethics in government, in the process painting every card-carrying Liberal member and average Liberal voter as immoral, unethical and apathetic towards corruption, and then as soon as you are elected break that promise, there's nothing "good" about that - that's just plain old hypocrisy. Let's remember, it took the Chretien government several years before it started to get arrogant and start showing signs of corruption. It took the Conservatives, what, a day? Just to offer some perspective.

Monday, March 20, 2006

I didn't say that, I said "Fiddle Diddle"

Well, we've got candidate number three. Ashley MacIsaac, a famous fiddler from Nova Scotia, has entered the race as the third declared candidate to lead the Liberal party. Well, he certainly wins the award for "candidate no one would have expected", thus far anyway. Joe Average the plumber from Wild Rose could still beat him out.

Why are we there?

Is this what we're fighting for? A man in Afghanistan is currently facing the death penalty for the crime of "Rejecting Islam". Is this why Canadian troops are fighting and dying in Afghanistan? To aid in the deaths of those who refuse to be Muslims? I wonder if our Canadian troops fighting there right now could be tried under this law? I wonder if they know about it? I wonder how they'd feel about it?

If ever there was a reason to have a debate in parliament about our presence in Afghanistan, this is it. Canadians should be informed of this, and be forced to ask themselves: do you really want Canada to commit its resources to the empowering of a barbaric regime? How long until homosexuality and adultery are illegal, if they're not illegal already? How long until they carry the death penalty, if they don't already?

Personally, I've recently become uneasy about sending western troops into the Middle East to fight for "democracy" and "freedom", in no small part because I understand that the Muslims of the Middle East do not think like us. They do not value freedom, or democracy. They value religion; fundamentalist, intolerant, oppressive religion. I was someone who supported the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq precisely because I felt that the Muslims would welcome freedom and democracy - but the events of these last few years have made it evident to me that they really want nothing to do with these things.

If they don't want what we're selling, why are we paying money and blood to sell it?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The most humourless man in the world?

I know the South Park boys think that John Edward is the Biggest Douche in the Universe, but I think after this, their opinion has to have changed in favour of Tom Cruise receiving that award.

Desjarlais - Conservative

I'm... not overly surprised, but that someone could go from socialist to conservative upon being offered a job as a Conservative is really a good indication of how principled she is.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A truly sad story

Gay and lesbian seniors are facing their own unique challenges in acquiring healthcare, the Globe and Mail reports. These are men and women who come out of an era where open, mature sexuality was considered unhealthy, and incidentally so were they. They are facing problems today due to their desire to keep their sexual orientations private - as they were conditioned to do by their neurotic society - meddling home-care workers who try to "convert" them, and general homophobia of the people who are supposed to help them.

We've still got a long way to go.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

"We Do Not Torture"

I won't comment on this myself, the pictures speak for themselves. They don't leave much to the imagination. The sick thing is, there are apologists for this stuff. All of them Republicans; all of them conservatives.

(WARNING - Pictures are extremely graphic, depicting gruesome violence and sexual exploitation.)

NDP Hypocrisy

This cowboy, of the social responsibility-boosting variety, made an excellent point on the NDP's call for an ethics commissioner investigation of Belinda Stronach's floor-crossing:

"Having missed the appropriate opportunity to complain, the only investigation required now is whether there can be a statute of limitations on political hypocrisy and cheap politics."

Not to mention a statute of limitations period - Stronach crossed the floor in May of 2005. It is now almost April of 2006, almost a year later. Stronach has been duly re-elected by the people of her riding by a fairly comfortable margin - certainly more than she won by as a Conservative. So the NDP does raise the question by calling for an ethics investigation, "Why now?"

It's a good question. Why did they wait almost a year to get up in arms? Was it because Stronach's floor-crossing, at the time, benefited them in their passage of the budget amendment? I think that is almost certainly the case - it's definitely the most logically apparent answer. Hell, why don't get call for an ethics commissioner investigation of Scott Brison's floor-crossing, too, or how about Keith Martin's? And while we're at it, do Ujjal Dosanjh and Bob Rae - okay I know, they didn't technically cross the floor, but why let reason dictate the lengths to which the NDP is willing to go to make a farce of the office of the ethics commissioner? (As if Stephen Harper isn't trying hard enough.)

This is a case of brazen hypocrisy on the part of the NDP - the party that likes to present itself as being "above" petty politics is getting just as dirty as everybody else. The message they send is clear - "If you do something of questionable ethics, prepare to be investigated by the good doctor Shapiro, unless of course it benefits us." Pathetic.

I do have to disagree with Mr. CfSR on the matter of the NDP's handling of Bev Desjarlais, however. The fact of the matter is, the NDP has had a party policy for many years dictating that its members must support gay rights. Jack Layton made it clear in the election of 2004 that he would not allow his MPs to vote against equal rights for gays. Bev Desjarlais ran in that election as a New Democrat. If she was unable to abide by the decision of her leader, she should not have run to join his caucus. It is entirely within the prerogative of party leaders to decide critic portfolios, and that includes rescinding them. As for not doing anything to ensure her renomination, that would have been undemocratic - the NDP members in her riding association wanted her gone, and they made it happen. For Jack Layton to criticize parachute candidates and then force candidates on ridings would be rank hypocrisy.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

We'll take Campbell, too

So I'm reading CG's comments section, 'cause I do that a lot - interesting people post there, after all. And I come across this:

We Conservatives are happy Brison is not in the Conservative Party of Canada. The old PC's may as well have been Liberals and now we are focussed on creating a REAL Conservative Party in this country. God riddance to Joe Who too. And Maureen McTeer, they were always closet Liberals.
I believe in traditional marriage, MAN + WOMAN.
I believe in letting parents decide how to raise their children, not the state.
I am happy Liberals have Brison since he provides living proof of what Trudeau and his Charter have done to this country.

And we're happy to have him, especially as an example of what Trudeau and his Charter have done to this country. We now live in a country where an openly gay man has a realistic shot at becoming prime minister. This typically anonymous conservative may hate that idea - but that really proves the point that Trudeau and the Charter have made this country better: people like him/her are now reminiscent in the general public of the racists of the American south. So go Scott!

And for the record, I'd certainly be in favour of Joe Clark and Maureen McTeer joining the Liberals - I was always a big fan of Clark's.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Danny Williams better get those flags ready...

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has indicated that he may be scrapping the Atlantic Accord.

The incredible thing about this is that he's blaming the Liberals for implementing the Atlantic Accord and upsetting the balance of the equalization formula. Mr. Flaherty - who proved during his tenure as Ontario's finance minister to be completely incompetent, leaving the province and the McGuinty government saddled with a $5.6 billion deficit - conveniently left out the fact that the Conservatives not only supported the Atlantic Accord, but vehemently attacked the Liberals and Paul Martin for not supporting it. Of course, the Conservatives have been forgetting a lot of things they said before recently, such as a platform promise to strengthen the ethics commissioner and ensure that the prime minister cannot dismiss him, and another one not to appoint Senators unless they have been elected, and the list goes on.

These guys have been in office for just over a month, the House of Commons hasn't even sat yet. And they have the nerve to say the Liberals break their promises! I guess John "campaigns are campaigns" Reynolds could rationalize and justify scrapping the Atlantic Accord, but I'd love to see Loyola Hearn, Norm Doyle and Fabian Manning do the same!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Bob Rae likely to run

I'm... intrigued. I hope he runs, the more the merrier. The race is wide open, with no obvious front-runner or favourite, and the list of people who could occupy that position come convention time just goes on and on, so it's a great time for anyone who's ever thought to themselves, "I think I should lead the Liberal party" to consider running.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Louise Arbour

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and former Supreme Court justice. Her name's been mentioned many times as a possible leadership candidate for the Liberal Party. Will she run? I doubt it, but only because that would just be to... good. For us I mean. A woman of her stature would understandably not want to dirty her reputation by submerging herself into the mud pit that is politics. That, and she's in kind of a non-partisan position.

It's an interesting prospect - I would love to see her run. High Commish for Human Rights, former Vice-President of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association... sounds like my kind of leader (having a large array of second-choices doesn't hurt, you know). And a woman to boot - I'm not an affirmative action kind of guy myself, but come on, 21 male prime ministers to 1 female? That's a bit stacked...

I know the Tories hate FACTS but...

...Cherniak has provided them. This Brison affair seems pretty open and shut. And judging by his comments section, I think it's a safe bet that he's not as damaged as the prevailing wisdom goes. I read about 30 comments, and the tone of the vast majority of them indicates that they are Tories (it is true that more Tories read Cherniak's blog than Liberals), and they are using this opportunity to viciously attack Brison.

I would like to make two points here.

The first is that, if the Tories are attacking this guy so vociferously, the Liberals may be on to something. As a general rule, the more your opponents hate you and the more intensely they attack you, the more indication you have that you're on the right track.

The second is an appeal to Liberals. The last thing we need is an ugly leadership campaign. To have Liberals debating policy and ideas with each other is one thing - indeed, quite a healthy thing. But to engage in the kind of trench warfare that the Tories and the NDP will be directing against us in the coming election campaign can do nothing but harm. First of all, whoever ends up winning (and it could be Brison) will be damaged, and that's not a good thing. Like it or not, we'll be going into the next election with whomever is chosen at the leadership convention as our contender for prime minister. I don't think I should need to point out how bad it would be to have the Tories quoting Liberals in reference to our leader. And second, it alienates the target of the assault, and likewise their supporters, and that causes nothing but trouble - or are Liberals still in the process of learning that lesson? The danger of a leadership race is factionalism, but at the end of the day those factions have to be able to come back together again and unite behind the leader - if that's not possible, it's very bad for the party.

Don't like Scott Brison (or for that matter, Michael Ignatieff, or Belinda Stronach, etc.)? Don't vote for him. Don't like his ideas? Oppose and refute them. But let's try our best to refrain from the kind of dirty fighting and mudslinging the Tories like to engage in. I know the Conservatives hate the facts - like the fact that Paul Martin was innocent of any wrong-doing in the sponsorship scandal - but that means we have to champion them. If there is proof that Scott Brison is guilty of any wrong-doing, let it be presented, and I will withdraw my support for him, and join calls that he should not run for leader. But I absolutely refuse to buy into smear tactics being engaged in primarily by Brison's political opponents (or former allies with a vendetta), and believe that a completely innocuous email correspondence which the hard evidence suggests was just a repetition of already public facts and therefore not any kind of leak.

I make this pledge with regards to other leadership contenders, too. I don't particularly want Belinda Stronach to win, but if she does run, I won't stoop to the level of attacking her character. I'll attack her ideas (or lack of the same), not her person. I wish other Liberals would do the same - we've got to be better than the Tories. I'm well-aware that the majority of negative comments about Brison are coming from Conservatives - it's fairly obvious from the tone of them - but Liberals aren't helping the party by joining the enemy in attacking a potential leadership contender in this way.

I think Belinda just bid...

The Ebay bid for the Liberal leadership is now $16,000,000.

I wonder how Rick is going to spend his money?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Check your baggage

Paul Wells made a great comment in Calgary Grit's comments section:

Word to the wise: "No baggage" easily wins the prize for worst possible criterion in choosing a leader. "Baggage" is what you get when you've done something with your life. When he came to Ottawa in 2001, Stockwell Day had no baggage at all. When he won the leadership in 1990, Chrétien had so much baggage he needed a separate train car to carry it all. He was radioactive in Quebec. And he won three majorities, increasing his Quebec vote every time at bat.

Ernie Eves had no baggage. Camille Thériault was Frank McKenna without the baggage. I could go through a list of baggage-free losers and baggage-toting winners (Reagan! Clinton! Al Gore: Clinton without the baggage) as long as your arm, but there's no point. The "no-baggage" armies never learn. That's because they're not carrying a lot of baggage either.
Here's another word for baggage: experience. You're right. Can't have that.

Sums it up, really. So Brison's got a little baggage now. Big deal, right? We're the party of baggage!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

He actually did it...

The Liberal Party leadership is up for auction on Ebay.

Oh, Rick...

It's nothing

The current climate of Canadian politics appears to me thusly:

It is currently possible to take a completely innocuous e-mail correspondence involving Scott Brison, during which there is a single, fairly ambiguous reference to the income trust decision, a decision in which Mr. Brison was not actually involved, and turn it into a scandal worthy of being the sole cause of witholding support for any potential leadership bid.

Honestly, we just went through a couple of years where we let unfounded and baseless allegations against our prime minister and our party cost us an election, by playing the game of the ones making those allegations, instead of standing up and saying, "Prove it." Are we really going to let that keep happening?

The Oscars

I'd like to concentrate on entertainment for a moment if I may. No, I'm not going to rant that Brokeback didn't win best picture even though it should have, and the fact that I can't help but shake this nagging suspicion that the reason it didn't win is because Hollywood isn't as accepting as everyone likes to think it is...

Anyway, here's some video:

John Stewart's amusing opening monologue.

Stephen Colbert uses his amazing Da Colbert Code to predict the Oscar winners.

And finally, Bill Maher hosts the Academy Awards. (Hehe...)

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Harper refuses to cooperate with Ethics Commissioner

I guess we really shouldn't have expected anything more from him, but Stephen Harper has decided that the Ethics Commissioner is illegitimate. Therefore, he will not be cooperating with him in his investigation of the Emerson affair.

This guy has been in office for less than a month, and already he's proven beyond a doubt that he will be one of the sleaziest and most unaccountable prime ministers ever. Did anybody expect anything else?