Thursday, April 26, 2007

Irony of Ironies...

John Baird just said on Politics (not with Don Newman today :( ) that if the Liberals had implemented the Tory environment plan in 1997, we would have met our Kyoto targets.

The ironic thing is that if the Liberals had implemented the Tory environment plan in 1997, the Tories and the Reform Party would have had a fit - and no doubt would John Baird (then an Ontario Tory cabinet minister) have as well, not to mention Stephen Harper.

Sorry, but it seems to me that you can't criticize somebody for not doing something that you would have condemned them for doing. The hypocrisy of these people is just amazing...

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Happy 4/20!

What were you doing at 4:20 today? Me, I was writing an exam. :-(


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Stephane Dion IS a Leader

I really like this new Liberal ad. I think it makes the point which calls to be made, that Dion is a leader - just not the type of leader Stephen Harper is. Where as Harper plays a zero-sum game and leads by fiat, Dion is the type of leader who can bring together 182 countries and get them to all agree on a plan to fight climate change. It was a plan he had every intention of implementing as Environment Minister, and he will implement it as Prime Minister as well.

The ad runs directly counter to the Conservative lie that Dion is a) not a leader, and b) not fit to fight climate change. The ad highlights a very important example of Canadian leadership - Dion's leadership - in fighting climate change. Maybe we do have a chance after all.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

It's Always Israel and Italy

Have you ever noticed how every screed against proportional representation always invokes Israel and Italy as examples of how PR breeds unstable political systems? Take this editorial in the National Post. It uses all of the most predictable arguments against PR, which I've already addressed elsewhere. Among these arguments is the usual "Israel and Italy" stuff. But why always Israel and Italy?

Because those are the only two countries using PR which have particularly unstable political systems. So in fact, these two countries actually put the lie to the anti-PR argument that PR breeds instability; Israel and Italy are exceptions, not the norm. There is every possibility (and high probability) that Canada would remain as stable as ever... perhaps even more so, since most systems of PR would discourage regional parties and encourage national ones; so of all the major parties, the Bloc Quebecois would suffer the most; the same system in Quebec would mean that the Parti Quebecois could never have formed a majority government. How exactly does that lead to instability? Quite the opposite, I'd say.


Friday, April 13, 2007

A Risky Play

The implications of the Dion-May accord are easy to see - it's a risky political play. I just hope Dion has the guts to follow it through to its logical conclusion. He could be acting here on a stroke of brilliace. It may not work, but at this point, he has very little to lose. If an election were held today, he'd lose pretty badly, and the Liberal party is in no mood to tolerate a loss with both Ignatieff and Rae still hoping to lead the party. He may survive a leadership vote, but he'd probably rather just avoid it altogether. And the only way to do that is to become prime minister. So it makes sense for him to make a risky play; again, I just hope he makes it.

The play I'm talking about is, of course, uniting the left. Coyne has already outlined the idea better than I could. A united left, with candidates of the Liberals, Greens and possibly the NDP agreeing not to run against each other, but against the Conservatives, similar to the arrangement Mackenzie King had with the Progressives in 1926. In many ridings, Liberals and Progressives did not face each other, and many ran as Liberal-Progressives, because they shared a common enemy - Arthur Meighen's Tories. It worked then, and it could work now. Dion wouldn't be crazy for trying, he'd just be trying to hold onto his job.



That's the number of votes which separated Conservative Belinda Stronach and Liberal Martha Hall Findlay on election night 2004. Oh what might have been... Findlay would almost certainly have been placed in the Liberal cabinet had she taken down a Stronach in Aurora and Newmarket. What would her 2006 leadership campaign have brought her if she could also claim cabinet experience on her resume?

Then again, it's just as likely likely that she wouldn't have run that first-mocked but eventually lauded leadership campaign - lauded as it was for focusing on the grassroots as opposed to the party machine - had she not been so slighted by that party machine. The party machine which unceremoniously shoved her aside in the Spring of 2005, replacing her, the duly nominated candidate for Newmarket--Aurora and up until then gearing up for a rematch against Stronach, with Stronach herself. That's gotta hurt.

Just on a whimsical note, it's funny to imagine a future date: Liberal Leadership, 20XX (I don't want to try to predict that one...) Martha Hall Findlay emerges as the first female leader of the Liberal Party, leaving Belinda Stronach - who returned to politics to give her leadership ambitions one last shot - in the dust. It would be one of the most perfectly sublime moments in Canadian political history - and thus, will probably never, ever happen. Still, one can dream.

I don't mean I dream of seeing Belinda humiliated, that's just a consequence of the life she chose to dabble in, inexperienced, unready. I don't blame her for wanting to leave that world - it clearly wasn't for her - but the fact that she is deliberately leaving the door open for a future return to politics is to be a bit silly. Because let's be clear - if she gets out now, she's out for good. Oh she could probably return as an MP if she wanted - she has shown she can win Newmarket--Aurora as a candidate for either major party - or maybe even a cabinet minister. But that's it. The Conservatives will never take her back, and the Liberals from this point on are going to see very little use for her, besides her money - and the new fundraising laws make it very hard for the party to use her money as an asset. She could return and try to run for leader, but the party will never buy it now.

The party may have bought it. Had she stuck around, day in and day out, doing the difficult but rewarding work of being a Member of Parliament, and then maybe done her time in a new Liberal cabinet led by Stephane Dion, the party may have said, "Well, she's really proven herself." But ultimately, may have wasn't good enough for her - and that's alright. If she didn't see the outcome she desired at the end of the line, she had no reason to keep on going, subjecting herself to public humiliation (some of it her own making, much of it not) and gossip about her love life (which, admittedly, is pretty juicy). Maybe that's it - this thing with Tie Domi's apparently still going; if that's true, I certainly wouldn't blame her for wanting to be out of the spotlight. I wouldn't particularly want to be in a relationship chronicled by the media.

So she deserves no ill will (well, maybe from Peter MacKay), but in my opinion, she should not return to politics. Because the only reason she'd want to return would be to be leader, and she's shown by getting out that she's just not up to that job.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Quick Thought on Stronach

I'm surprised, but I guess in retrospect I shouldn't be. She'll pull in millions of dollars in private life, as opposed to the six-figure salary of an MP. This certainly doesn't quash her leadership ambitions, however. She's already served in a Liberal cabinet, which is the one thing all Liberal leaders have had in common. Maybe I'm going out on a limb here, but Stephen Harper was elected in 1993, served about three years and the House, left politics and returned to save his party from the political wilderness. So it's not unheard of...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Why Iran Did It (Or, Bill O'Reilly is an asshole)

Bill O'Reilly is an asshole. I don't think I need to explain myself if you've seen this recent explosion of bloviating arrogance.

Of course, the reason O'Reilly exploded (besides being an asshole) is fairly obvious: the Bushies, the theo-conservatives, and the rest of the pro-torture right have been defending frequent US violation of the Geneva conventions on prisoners of war. It is therefore now impossible for the US to take the moral high ground against Iran. By torturing prisoners in US custody, the United States has been in frequent violation of Geneva. Granted, Iran has also been in frequent violation of International Human Rights law of all sorts, but that was never the point. Of course the Iranian government tortures people! They're the bad guys! That's what bad guys do! But the United States ceded the right to lecture other countries on following the Geneva conventions when its official policy became to openly and consistently violate the conventions. The United States has joined that list of nations that used to be known less than ten years ago in America itself as "the bad guys."

This is why O'Reilly exploded. He knows that all of the above is true, and that no amount of spin can get him out of the ideological hole he's dug himself. So the only thing he has left to do is pull out all the usual tricks - "You're blaming America!" "You're attacking America!" "You hate America!" and on and on - that have served him so well. People aren't buying it anymore, Bill. Your particular brand of bullshit went out of style in November of 2006. Get with the program. What Bill should really be angry about is the fact that the Bush administration has just handed all of its most vile enemies a huge propaganda victory. No longer can the United States condemn them with any credibility.

Iran definitely had a reason for this little diplomatic game. My theory at this point is that they knew they could embarass the hell out of the United States. Britain faced some embarassment itself, as it is generally thought that Britain is likely not capable of winning a war with Iran on its own, and this incident reinforced that perception. But the United States came away from this the far greater loser.

Throughout the standoff, no one seriously seemed to believe that this was going to escalate into a war because it is well known that the United States is in no condition to fight a war with Iran. It would certainly will militarily, but occupying the country is simply out of the question at least until Iraq has been dealt with, and even then it would likely prove impossible. If you think Iraq is particularly bad, you obviously haven't thought about the Vietnam-waiting-to-happen that is Iran, which is more than double the size of Iraq. So a military strike against Iran was never seriously on the table.

Moreover, the United States was alienated from the entire process. Its own flouting of the Geneva conventions was drawn out into the open when they started to lecture Iran about them. US credibility was futher hurt when the prisoners were released unharmed earlier today, unlike many of the prisoners in US care. Not only had it ceded its credibility on the issue of Geneva, but Bush and co.'s tough-talking stance was actually a set-back, according to the Brits. In other words, "Go away, George, you're not helping."

The Iranians never had any intention of provoking an incident. They simply wanted to watch Bush and Blair squirm for a few days, as well as make it clear that they are prepared to defend themselves if attacked. That's my theory, anyway.

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