30 December 2005

Survey Time!

OK so earlier this month I put a questionnaire out to all the folks in my Canadian Politics seminar course that was based on the election. I will now make it public and also present my answers:

1. Will any party win more than 155 seats? No.
2. Will any party capture more than 35% of the national popular vote? Yes.
3. Will the Bloc Quebecois win more than 55 seats? Yes, probably more than 60.
4. Will the Bloc capture the "50 percent plus 1" of the popular vote that they have been seeking to use as a foundation for a future referendum? Almost certainly
5. Will the Conservatives win more than 30 seats in Ontario? Yep.
6. Will the NDP win more than 25 seats nationally? Yes, I think they'll get upwards of 30.
7. Will the Liberals win any seats in Alberta? Oh such a tough call. Will McLellan's luck run out? I think that this time around she is finished.
8. Will the Conservatives win any seats in Quebec? Yes, close to 5.
9. Will the Green Party elect its first-ever MP? Nope.
10. Will the Liberals elect MPs in all 10 provinces? No, see #7.
11. Will Michael Ignatieff win in Etobicoke-Lakeshore? I hope so, and I believe he will.
12. Will more than 3 current Cabinet ministers fail to win re-election? Definitely, and you can start with Jean Lapierre.
13. Will Jean Lapierre be re-elected? NO
14. Will the NDP's Olivia Chow be elected? Yes, especially in the aftermath of the chow chow debacle.
15. Here's the really tough one: Provide an overall seat breakdown by party, based on a 308-seat Parliament.
Conservatives: 122
Liberals: 92
Bloc Quebecois: 66
NDP: 28

There you have it. Feel free to fill in your own ideas and thoughts as well.

29 December 2005

Happier Times for Ralph Goodale ^^^^

A very sombre Jack Layton just nailed the whole Goodale-Income Trust Fund issue on the head: as Minister of Finance, he is responsible and accountable for everything that occurs in his Department, good, bad, right, and wrong. This is one of the many things that I learned this past semester in my Canadian Politics seminar. It applied to Alphonso Gagliano during the sponsorship scandal, and should it be revealed that someone in his Department leaked the information, it will apply to him as well.
The same goes if it turns out that someone from the PMO leaked the information. This is something that has come up in recent hours as well. If Mr. Goodale isn't being investigated by the RCMP, and the Prime Minister is unwilling or unable to discuss the matter in public, it is natural that some will speculate that the investigation is into the Langevin Block as well.
As we have seen in the United States, when politicians are even accused of wrongs on this level, it is usually enough to sink their careers. Tom DeLay can attest to that. I have met Ralph Goodale, he has a tremendous track record as being a man of integrity who will work hard for his constituents and his country. It is unfortunate that he is embroiled in this scandal, because I would love to believe him at his word when he says that he did not know of any leak and did not participate in any leak of "insider" information regarding his "fiscal update" and income trusts. However, ministerial responsibility and accountability dictates the rules, not emotions or sentiments, and for that reason, it is right and proper for Goodale to resign his position until the RCMP investigation is completed.

Please Don't Boil My Dog's Head!

This appears in today's Toronto Star:

In an interview Wednesday, Emerson said he made the remark about Layton in a speech at a dinner during the B.C. federal Liberals' convention the weekend before the election call. He said it wasn't meant to be disrespectful.
"It was in reference to his constant chattering away with this great big grin on his face, pasted on, kind of an over-extended grin," Emerson said.
"It's a Cantonese expression which I use on myself and my wife uses on me all the time when I have to pose for pictures."
"I was referring to constantly seeing Jack Layton looking like a boiled dog's head, talking about some of these shallow, ideologically driven policies of the NDP."

The Star story includes the racial implications of the statement, which I didn't know of myself. However, the rather vulgar image of someone boiling a dog's head and plastering it on Jack Layton's face is enough to make one wonder why somebody would make such a public statement. Secondly, and this is something I've had to make a statement about before: when did it become a perjorative to have "ideologically driven policies?" Heaven forbid somebody in this country actually have a core set of beliefs that they build their policies around. Of course, we could go off on Paul Martin's neoliberal-inspired deficit reduction and budget-balancing, but that would be the good kind of ideologically driven policy, wouldn't it? Furthermore, it would probably force the Liberals to actually have to draw a comparison between themselves and Stephen Harper's so-called "neoconservative" "hidden agenda." They'd have to forfeit either their own "beliefs" because they were often similar to the Conservative leader's own views, or drop the always-scary-in-Canada "neoconservative" label.
Reportedly Emerson's comments appeared on the LPCBC President Jamie Elmhirst's blog. I couldn't find it myself, but I found these other remarks that I found to be of some concern. Now, I've met Jamie and even had a beer with him at an LPCBC convention in my hometown of Penticton, BC. He seemed then to be a very nice guy, but comments such as the ones that follow are highly inappropriate for a person in his position. I'll explain why I feel that is the case after each quote.

"Jack Layton provided incontrovertible proof on the weekend that progressive voters in Canada can’t support the NDP and must vote Liberal."

This comment is in reference to Layton's willingness to work with a potential Harper Conservative minority. Layton hasn't changed much in terms of his overall agenda, it would seem, namely making Parliament work. He worked with the Liberals in the last session, and that was just fine for the Liberals, but now because he's demonstrating a willingness to work with the "other guys," he's evil. Let us also not forget the implications for Canadian democracy here. "Vote Liberal or else all your rights will vanish under scary Stephen Harper! He hates the Charter, you know!"

"On the other hand, it is obvious that Harper longs to play kissy-kissy with his ideological hero, George Bush."

Really? You actually said that? The last time I looked, Harper wasn't a homosexual and was indeed married with a couple of children. Again, too, with the invocation of ideology, as well as the always-popular-in-Canada Bush-bashing. This type of speech belongs in the sandbox, not something originating from the President of the Liberal Party of Canada in British Columbia.

On Child Care: "Harper Conservatives will desperately try and use this misstep to deflect attention away from their own crappy, ill thought out approach."

Do you really believe that this type of language is appropriate? Again, take it to the sandbox. He also expresses his "sympathy" for Scott Reid over the "beer and popcorn" statement, not for the viewpoint but because it's easy to say stupid things in front of a television camera. Apparently it's also easy to say them on a blog. As I said above, I've met Jamie before; I know that he's a relatively young guy, but saying that your opponent's ideas are "crappy" and that they want to "play kissy-kissy" with George Bush is ridiculous! He's a grown man, not an 8-year old playing with his buddies in the schoolyard! This is the type of stuff that led me to make the choice to leave the Liberals, and I hope that other people will see past the sham curtain that they have tried to erect in front of Stephen Harper to portray him as a scary-type who will systematically ruin our country. If they can do that and still find the Liberal platform to be superior to the Conservatives or the NDP or the Bloc or the Greens, that's totally respectable, but Liberals have demonstrated a clear lack of respect for Canadians during this campaign, and for that reason amongst many others it is time for them to be sent to the penalty box and spend a few years in opposition.

27 December 2005

The Aftermath . . .

Hard to believe that Christmas is over already. And what a Christmas it was! These are two of my favourite presents. Yes I finally got a lightsaber of my own!!! And Tasha got me this adorable kitty! There's also a jacket, a Darth Vader Pez Dispenser, a chain, and a bunch of other really great stuff! It was wonderful spending my first Christmas with my love, and I look forward to doing it again for a very long time.
In addition to the joy that is Christmas, the follow-up is equally awesome. Tasha & I are coming home for 12 days in February! I'm taking advantage of my reading break and doing what many folks did for Christmas: get away to spend some time with friends and family. It's going to be great to see everybody again, so get ready and make sure your calendar is clean to see us!!!

24 December 2005

Christmas Wishes and Such!

"Tomorrow is Christmas, it's practically here!" - The Grinch

Yes, and what a joyous time of year this is. I'm excited beyond words for my first Christmas with Tasha, though sad that it also marks my first Christmas not with the family at home. There is still time, and Air Canada has one-ways to K-town for about $350+ the extra hundred or whatever for surcharges. Of course if I did that I'd be too broke to come back!!
It's been a great year, many changes and a lot of moving forward after a rather lethargic 2K4. I can't believe that I'm already halfway through my graduate degree, I nailed the straight A's that I always hope for (the 79.5 in my Canadian Political Thought class will presumably be rounded up to an even 80 on my transcript.....I hope), I've learned a ton and re-enforced a number of viewpoints I already held. So the "business" side of my life has definitely been an A+ this year.
So too, for the first time in my life, can I say that about the "personal" side of my existence. I have the most amazing girlfriend in the universe (I know that everybody says that, but how many of you out there can claim legitimately that someone who you love and who loves you would move 5000km to be with you?), and I am completely in love. It is the most amazing feeling, and compared to the bleh and the despair and the emptiness I felt last year at this time, it is literally a world away. I love you, Tasha, with every ounce of my being.
And so yes, tomorrow is indeed Christmas. The tree is half-loaded with presents (Tash is at work so I've taken some liberties to get a jump on things), the apartment is getting clean in anticipation of tomorrow's festivities, the cookies still need to be baked (luckily NORAD informs me that Claus is still in eastern Russia), and there is much holiday cheer to go around the place. I'll upload a couple pics just to get an idea of the fun taking place here.
Until I catch you again on the flipside, everybody out there reading this: have yourself a very Merry Christmas, best wishes to you and all your loved ones, and enjoy the very best of this lovely wonderful season.

23 December 2005

Chantal Hebert nails it perfectly in today's Toronto Star:

It is because they have failed to keep up with the times that the federal Liberals are no longer holding their own in Quebec. In this campaign, they are fighting the last war and shooting themselves in the foot almost daily in the process.
Two decades after patriation of the Constitution, the federal Liberal party is a spent force in Quebec. The days when it competed fiercely with the sovereignist movement for the best and brightest of Quebecers are behind it.

It is going to take a near-complete purge of the Liberal Party organization's structure in Quebec in order to bring about the renewal that the party desperately needs. It requires new faces who do not have the taint of the sponsorship scandal-era with them. Many of those affiliated with Paul Martin and perhaps even Jean Chretien in the province of Quebec have a hint of that stain with them and it has devastated the party's fortunes in the province that it could once claim exclusive jurisdiction over for the federalist parties. From 1993 until the present the Liberals were the only federalist party that could legitimately stake out Quebec as its own, and it was invaluable in providing the three consecutive majorities and the Martin minority last year. Those days are over. The Bloc Quebecois holds a massive lead, and there was one source yesterday speculating that "the PM might lose his own seat" in this election. This is the extent to which the self-anointed "Captain Canada" (how ironic given that CSL doesn't fly a Canadian flag) has lost the favour of voters in his home province. The Liberals are in deep trouble in Quebec, and the shift away from them to the Bloc, and possibly even to the Tories, where it's been said that Harper could win a small handful of seats, could very well end up resulting in a Conservative government in January.

22 December 2005

Isn't this something? This is reportedly, by Conservative pundit Stephen Taylor, going to be one of the new Liberal attack ads in the new year. Just take a moment to digest what the words on that little banner say. How easy would it be to swap out the main headline and replace it with, oh I don't know, "Chuck Guite and the Liberals," or "Paul Martin and the Liberals"? Here we are in a world that is not even two months removed from the publication of the first volume of the Gomery Report and the Big Red Machine has the audacity to accuse other political leaders and parties of using the mechanisms of government to benefit their friends. Quick question: which party allowed its advertising friends to pocket over 100 MILLION DOLLARS of Canadians' money? It most certainly was the Liberals. In my many years of following politics, I believe this stands as the single most hypocritical action I have seen. It is shameful and embarrassing to believe that the Martinite Liberals have such low esteem of Canadians that they actually think that this poster will not evoke images of cash-loaded brown envelopes or the sponsorship scandal, and will immediately believe that Stephen Harper is the devil incarnate. It also, of course, completely ignores how Paul Martin helped Paul Martin get richer for many years by flying off-shore flags on his Canadian Steamship Lines company ships. It's despicable and the Liberals should be ashamed of themselves for this.

20 December 2005

Found this courtesy of Bourque today:

Last week, MSNBC host Tucker Carlson, a well-known conservative pundit, let loose with a string of anti-Canada rants.
"Anybody with any ambition at all, or intelligence, has left Canada and is now living in New York," he said.
"Canada is a sweet country. It is like your retarded cousin you see at Thanksgiving and sort of pat him on the head. You know, he's nice but you don't take him seriously. That's Canada."
Carlson also said it's pointless to tell Canada to stop criticizing the United States.
"It only eggs them on. Canada is essentially a stalker, stalking the United States, right? Canada has little pictures of us in its bedroom, right?"
"It's unrequited love between Canada and the United States. We, meanwhile, don't even know Canada's name. We pay no attention at all," he said.

Hey Tucker, I've got lots of ambition and intelligence and I'm still here. I've also got a little quote that your vice-president made famous: Go Fuck Yourself.

17 December 2005

Paul Martin's "Phony War" in Dealing with the United States

At the debate last night, Stephen Harper called Paul Martin on the carpet for "phony war" tactics and damaging commentaries vis-a-vis the United States in the ongoing trade dispute over softwood lumber. As has been the case in recent weeks, I find myself in ready agreement with Harper, and here's why.

It's a "phony war" because all Martin has done is engage in empty rhetoric as opposed to actually talking to the President of the United States in a constructive manner to get things done. Criticizing the president in the media is a popular thing to do in this country, but it's not popular in Washington and it doesn't do anything to reverse the persidently negative trend of the Canada-US relationship in recent years. It is problematic not only for optics and the basic diplomatic reasons involved in international relations, but it also creates a problem because it is a disincentive for the United States to get engaged in the matter. The Bush administration has demonstrated an incredible ability to get results when it has decided on a course of action (shoring up public support for the war in Iraq, initiating the Patriot Act, etc.), what is needed here is Canadian leadership to get the Americans to realize what is taking place in this situation and guide them towards remedying it.

This is exemplary in almost every way of the different priorities between Canada and the United States. The American administration is primarily concerned with security and defense of the American homeland in the wake of September 11, while Canada remains in the mindset of pursuing trade as its most important international interest. When Canada does something that offends American sensitivities in security matters (Iraq, BMD) they will respond by tuning out Canadian invokations to remedy trade irritants. When the Prime Minister follows that up by demanding the Americans get a "global conscience," or a seat at the BMD table anyways, or to resolve the softwood issue, or anything that the administration does not consider to be a priority, it only digs a deeper hole and makes the spiral go downward that much faster. Engagement is critical, not pandering to anti-American reflexes during an election campaign, and until Paul Martin realizes this he will only continue to hurt the Canada-US relationship.
Quote of the Day

Courtesy of Stephen Harper, speaking in Alberta:
"The Liberals will trust their advertising friends with $100 million, but they won't trust Mom and Dad with $100 a month."

That's golden. Absolutely golden.

15 December 2005

Martin's Comment Will Only Hurt Liberal Fortunes in Quebec

Mr. Martin replied by saying that Mr. Duceppe will begin a process that will lead to another referendum, "a process that will end the country of Canada that generations of Quebeckers built with other Canadians - a country that is envied throughout the world."

Martin has once again fed fuel to the fire for the separatists in this election campaign with this ridiculous statement. The provincial government in Quebec is a Liberal leader (Jean Charest), the most federalist premier in my lifetime and that of many others, and the Bloc does not have the legitimate authority to begin the process leading to a referendum in the province of Quebec. Bosclair is at least two years away from being able to contest an election, and by then there is no certainty whatsoever that he will be the one to lead the Parti Quebecois back to power; then, and only then, can the road to a new referendum begin. Martin is playing his national unity card, unfortunately nobody told him that a joker doesn't count.

He is playing right into the separatists' hands with these types of statements. Instead of giving Quebeckers a reason to vote for the Liberals, he is lending credence to the Bloc and the separatists, essentially handing them the great majority of the province's 75 electoral seats as well as providing legitimacy to the Bloc's attitude that "50 percent plus one" of the popular vote constitutes the prime victory for the Bloc.

For the life of me, I cannot fathom why Martin is doing this. These scare tactics simply do not work and they will not win over Quebeckers who are already upset with Martin and the Liberals for the sponsorship scandal. It is truly unfortunate that the Conservatives do not have a legitimate establishment in Quebec so that federalists in that province can have an alternative to the Liberals without turning to the Bloc to get their interests recognized.
One semester down, one to go. I'm looking forward to having the next three weeks to unwind a little bit. I had a great first term at Dalhousie, the marks were rolling in (I may post them once I get final grades), and the people out here are really great. I've learned a lot, reenforced some long-standing views, and I think I can say that I've come into my own. Looking forward to picking it up again in the new year!

13 December 2005

Now We're Really Talking!

Today two things are in the news that I love to talk about: Canadian defense policy and Canada/US relations. With that said, I will now talk about them.
Stephen Harper has unveiled the first portion of his party's policy for the Canadian Forces. Promising $5.3B more than the Liberals' highly back-loaded pledges of this past Parliament, the Tory program includes reconstituting the Canadian Airborne Regiment, doubling the capacity of the DART, airlift capacity, and quite possibly some flagships (aircraft carriers, mayhaps?) should they still have enough funding and need available. I like it. A lot. I have long been greatly concerned about the underfunding of our military in recent years, and given that I've got a good friend who is now in the Navy, I feel that anything that provides more substantive funding and programmes for our CF is a benefit to our great country. It will enhance Canadian sovereignty and reduce the international perception that Canada is a state that will make much noise but provide little action. Assuming that the Conservatives are elected and the plan is implemented, no longer will Canada need to rent airlift capacity from Ukraine or the United States, we will be more effective in providing assistance to disaster-stricken states and regions, and our military will once again have a highly-effective Airborne division for combat operations. These are all great ideas in an election that is going to be decided based upon attitudes and perceptions what ideas constitute the best interests for Canadians. For those of us who are interested in defense matters, this is a winning strategy that will enhance the ability for Canada to deliver upon the Defense pillar of this past year's International Policy Statement.
Turning to Canada-US relations, the Bush administration has made its formal rebuke of Paul Martin's recent blatant appeal to anti-American sentiment by telling the United States that it needs a conscience when it comes to the environment. I have been told that the primary responsibility of the US Consulate here in Halifax (and I'm sure others as well) during this election is to monitor anti-Americanism during the campaign. Ambassador Wilkins today made the same point that many in this country have regarding the comparative greenhouse emissions statuses of our two countries. He was sure to remain diplomatic in his language, not singling out Paul Martin and stating that the Canada-US relationship is deep and wide, strong in many aspects, and not appearing partisan at all. He is merely the messenger of the Bush administration, and he quite legitimately conveyed their displeasure with an obvious affront made last week in Montreal.
As I have already said, I believe that the country who signs on to an international treaty and voluntarily defects from its terms has less moral authority than the one that does not sign the treaty in the first place. Further, Martin's photo-op with former President Clinton started this chain of events. It is thoroughly illogical to expect that Washington would remain mum on this subject simply because there is an election campaign taking place in Canada. Relations between Ottawa and Washington exist prior, during, and after elections, and we have no right to demand that the United States not defend itself against foreign accusations, particularly ones with little to no merit.
The subject of ballistic missile defense also made an appearance on the radar today. Harper indicated that if the Americans presented a scenario that precluded the weaponization of space (a subject I just covered in a term paper for my IR class) and connected to Canada's interests, he would consider re-opening that discussion. He also promised a legitimate debate in Parliament and consultation with the other leaders. I've heard that before, and so has Washington. When George Bush made his desire known publicly last November in Halifax that he wanted Canada to participate in BMD, he did so because he believed that Canada would ultimately do just that. The public embarrassment suffered once (and subsequent chill in relations) will likely not be made again, no matter how friendly to the US the Washington Times believes Harper to be. I give Harper full credit for making such a bold statement, and I can only hope that he does not repeat the same fatal error that forever altered my perception of Paul Martin.

12 December 2005

Anybody got $25?

I'm fresh out of beer and popcorn. Can somebody from the government help me out here? Or is the PM still too busy at a winery?

Update: Stephen Taylor, one of my favourite Tory bloggers, completely pWns! Scott Reid right here.

11 December 2005

The Martin-Clinton Photo-Op Kyoto Fiasco

I have been asking people in the past couple days about this very matter, and my question is this: which is worse, the state that does not sign an international treaty, or the one that does and then systemically flouts its provisions? The state that participates in voluntary defection/cheats is always the answer I have received.
On the bigger picture of Canada/US relations, I am thoroughly disappointed in Martin's performance as PM. He came into office pledging to thaw the chill between Ottawa and Washington, and, if anything, he has made matters worse. The BMD decision was a public embarrassment for the Bush administration, as Bush had every reason to believe that Canada would participate when he asked Martin to join in his Halifax visit last year. The dithering was probably what infuriated the Americans most; having made every concession Canada requested and been assured only two days prior to the decision by Frank McKenna that Canada was on board, the Bush administration had every right to be angry at the rebuke.
Then came the Martin-Clinton photo-op. Why is our country one president behind? I just completed a comparative IR paper on Australia and Canada's respective BMD decisions, and I found that Canberra has a PM who is a "close friend" with Bush, who has secured an FTA with the US, and these are all contributing factors to Australia being seen as a legitimate regional power with good relations with Washington. Meanwhile, our PM is shaking hands with the previous POTUS and wondering why the current one is angry about such an occurrence. It also completely overlooks the fact that it was Clinton, not Bush, who rejected Kyoto for the United States.
Foreign policy is my primary area of interest and goes further than anything else in determining my vote. Barring a massive Harper failure in FP or other major area, I will not be putting my confidence in Paul Martin again in this election.

06 December 2005

"Just Reacting," eh Paul? Well here's my reaction . . .

Paul Martin has come out in defence of his separatist Quebec lieutenant's statement that the Bloc Quebecois has a "Nazi tone" to it. Unfathomable. The story is below, I will allow to read that before I continue . . .

Blaming campaign rally enthusiasm, Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe apologized Monday for saying he wanted to make the Liberals "disappear" from the Quebec scene after the federal election.
Duceppe's comments were jumped on by Lapierre, who described them as having a "Nazi" tone. "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," he said.
Prime Minister Paul Martin criticized Duceppe for the comments saying it "shows clearly the arrogance and the attitude of Mr. Duceppe.""I think this is totally unacceptable that the chief of a political party should say that Quebecers who don't share his vision of the world should disappear," he said in St. John's. "This is part of a basic philosophy that should never be forgotten."
Martin said Duceppe's comments were worse than what Lapierre said because "Mr. Duceppe planned what he said. Mr. Lapierre reacted."

Digest that for a moment, if you will. You have the Bloc leader saying that he wants to see the electoral map of Quebec painted Bloc Quebecois-bleu. He wasn't talking about Final Solutions or exterminating Liberals, but about defeating the Liberals and taking them out of the picture. I am in pretty much full agreement with Kinsella, who had this to say: What they should have been focussing on, and now are, is Jean Lapierre's willingness to liken a democratic political party to the Nazis. As Bernie notes, the comment by Paul Martin's hand-picked Quebec lieutenant demeans the experiences of people who know what real Nazis are like. That kind of demagoguery has no place in our politics. The Prime Minister of Canada should by no means be condoning that type of statement by saying it was a "reaction." How does that make it any more defensible? If someone plans to call me a dumbass and does it, does that mean its less bad for me to punch him out? Further, Duceppe wasn't saying that non-Bloc voting Quebeckers should disappear, he was saying that the Liberals as a functional representative body of the voting public would disappear in this election.

Day by day I find myself more and more disenchanted with the Liberal Party and leaning ever-so-slightly closer to voting Conservative.

03 December 2005

A Two-Horse National Race?

The course of the past 48-72 hours has not been particularly kind to the third and fourth parties. While the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have been squaring off over tax cuts and health care, Gilles Duceppe has been discussing Quebec getting its own hockey team while Jack Layton has seen CAW put a knife in him by giving an endorsement to the Liberals. Layton did himself further damage earlier today by arguing that Canada should retaliate against US tariffs on softwood lumber by putting export tariffs on gas and oil. The logic that the best way to respond to abrogation of international agreements is to abrogate international agreements is fundamentally flawed. It deprives Canada of its moral superiority in this trade dispute, and it potentially leads the United States to look elsewhere. It has plenty of oil wells around the world (right, lefties?), it doesn't need Canadian oil to as great an extent as we need them to buy it from us. Statements such as this do nothing to boost Layton's image, and indeed harm him in his efforts to overcome the caricature of him as a car salesman/city councillor.

The national race is increasingly taking shape as being a two-horse race between the Liberals and the Conservatives. Quebec may well go heavily in favour of the Bloc, but the ROC can still end up going either way. I also believe that, right now, the Tories have the momentum on their side. The GST announcement, their waiting times pledges, and today's announcement on minimum sentencing for drug offenders, these are all salient issues to Canadians and because Harper has been the one introducing these measures before the Liberals can get their planks unveiled, they are on the offensive. This is going to be a long campaign, of course, and there will likely be a number of momentum switches, but right now the big blue machine is riding high.

01 December 2005

Of Torture and Tax Cuts

Two big issues that are appearing on my radar this morning: repeated accusations in the blogosphere and elsewhere that Michael Ignatieff supports torture, and Harper's proposal to reduce the GST to 6% immediately after being elected and then to 5% by the end of his first term.

On Ignatieff:
Where exactly are all of you getting this idea that Ignatieff endorses torture? Because it certainly doesn't come from The Lesser Evil. Allow me to quote extensively from p. 142-43:
"As a practical matter, therefore, once a state begins to torture, it soons fins itself required to murder, in order to eliminate the problem of releasing hardened and embittered enemies into the general population. Once torture becomes a state practice, it entrains further consequences that can poison the moral reputation and political legitimacy of a state. . .
Any liberal democratic citizen who supports the physical torture of terrorist suspects in ticking bomb cases is required to accept responsibility for the psychological damage done, not only to a foreign victim, but to a fellow citizen, the interrogator. Torture exposes agents of a democratic state to ultimate moral hazard. The most plausible case for an absolute ban on physical torture (as opposed to coercion) in every circumstance is related precisely to this issue of moral hazard. No one should have to decide when torture is or is not justified, and no one should be ordered to carry it out. An absolute prohibition is legitimate because in practice such a prohibition relieves a state's public servants from the burden of making intolerable choices, ones that inflict irremediable harm both on our enemies and on themselves, on those charged with our defense. . .
This idea helps us to see why torture should remain anathema to a liberal democracy and should never be regulated, countenanced, or covertly accepted in a war on terror. For torture, when committed by a state, expresses the state's ultimate view that human beings are expendable. This view is antithetical to the spirit of any constitutional democracy whose raison d'etre is the control of violence and coercion in the name of human dignity and freedom."
Emphasis added for those of you who have obviously not read Ignatieff's work and have the misguided impression that he supports torture. It's as asinine as the Tories last year alledging that Martin supports child pornography.

On the GST reduction:
I like the proposal for the following reason: it gives this campaign its first real, salient issue, and there is now going to be an actual debate on differences in policy in an election campaign. The "most important election in Canadian history" last year was devoid of any major policy discussion, and centred largely around "hidden agendas" and the early furor over the sponsorship scandal. As someone who loves policy, it was a bore for me. If I'm really lucky, I'll even get a foreign policy debate.I'm not 100% sold on the notion of the GST cut, nor am I 100% sold on the personal income tax cuts.
I'm definitely looking forward to the (hopefully) intelligent discussion that is sure to follow this rather innovative announcement (in the sense that nobody's actually ran on cutting the GST as a legitimate campaign issue since 1993, and obviously that wasn't a wholehearted issue for the Liberals then, hence why we're talking about it today) and seeing whether Harper's economist credentials are able to help him mount an effective offensive in this issue.

30 November 2005

Nice One, Rookie

The Liberals have recruited Canada's first astronaut, Marc Garneau, to be a star candidate for them in Quebec for this election. That's fine and dandy. What's not so much is him today musing that the Liberals have taken enough of a beating from the sponsorship scandal and that it is "time to move on." Excuse me?!? This election campaign is the electorate's opportunity to pass their judgment on the Liberals for the wrongdoings in the Department of Public Works, under absolutely no circumstances is it time to move on. The politicians have had plenty of opportunity to vent their anger, frustration, etc. against the Liberals; the voters, the ones who have the ultimate means of holding this government accountable, have not. After the election is over, then and only then will it be "time to move on." For that ignorant statement alone, I hope that Garneau is defeated in his bid for office.

26 November 2005

It Begins . . .
This is excerpted from an email that a colleague sent me this morning, written by Stephen MacKinnon, the National Director of the Liberal Party:
For the Bloc, the election of a Stephen Harper government with them holding the balance of power is the ultimate “winning condition”. For they know that Stephen Harper’s neo-conservative agenda is the very antithesis of Quebeckers’ views. They, too, call all Liberals “corrupt” in the most McCarthyite way, to mask the fact that they have no policies that represent a positive vision of Quebec’s place in Canada.

Wow. That's spectacular. They referred to Harper's boys as "neo-conservatives." I can categorically tell you that this is as false a label as I've ever seen.If anything they are neo-liberals. "The idea that the market should be allowedto make major social and political decisions; the idea that the State shouldvoluntarily reduce its role in the economy, or that corporations should begiven total freedom, that trade unions should be curbed and citizens given muchless rather than more social protection." -- Susan George, "A Short History ofNeo-liberalism: Twenty Years of Elite Economics and Emerging Opportunities forStructural Change.
The fundamental characteristics of the neo-cons include anti-communism; skepticism about the efficacy of international institutions; a preoccupationwith the concept of the 'political' as producing unending conflict; anendorsement of 'natural right' as the foundation for domestic institutions;the belief that 'virtue,' as well as self-interest, matters in political life; a repugnance toward the relativism in modern liberal society; a marked skepticism about the potential for the physical and social sciences to fundamentally ameliorate the human condition; a pronounced anti-egalitarian stance; and a deep wariness about utopian political projects. -- Michael C. Desch, "What Would Strauss Do?"
Does anybody here believe that Harper runs around contemplating these kinds of issues? No, and here's why. He's too busy focusing on the practical issues of Canadian governance and reducing government intervention in the Canadian economy and the everyday lives of Canadians. Neoconservatism is something that has evolved into the exclusive domain of American foreign policy practictioners; to be sure, there are a few Canadians who indeed are neo-cons, but the politics of American Empire is not something that Stephen Harper has time to deal with. The times may change, but apparently the idea of misrepresenting Stephen Harper as the bogey-man have not.

24 November 2005

Tony Valeri: "It's easy to get in bed with separatists."

I guess this explains Lapierre.

23 November 2005

Martin's Dirty Dozen in BC

Given that we're going to be in an election campaign in a week's time, I think it might be a good idea for the Liberals to finally together some candidate selection meetings back in my home province. A cursory glance at the Liberal website shows that there are 12 confirmed candidates, only one of which is outside the Lower Mainland. There is one Okanagan candidate, Will Hansma is running again in Vernon. Unbelievable. I guess that Team BC has taken 2005 off, seeing as this government has only been in peril since the spring. I realize that the Interior isn't exactly Liberal territory in the first place, but at least make an effort!
The Hammer Comes Down

“That the House condemns the government for its arrogance in refusing to compromise with the opposition parties over the timing of the next general election and for its ‘culture of entitlement,' corruption, scandal, and gross abuse of public funds for political purposes and, consequently, the government no longer has the confidence of the House.”

That is the motion which will be introduced in Parliament tomorrow, to go to a vote of formal non-confidence in the government on Monday. This is exactly the wording that the Conservatives need to frame the initial stages of the election campaign. Whether they are able to sustain the momentum over the course of five or six weeks is entirely up to them, and they will be well-served to keep the "Gomery effect" heat on the government. I'm not sure how all of this will play out, or when the actual date of the election will be, probably either January 9th or 16th, depending on whether the parties opt for a week's break in late December for Christmas. Let the fun begin . . .

21 November 2005

The Wheels in Motion?

In about 20 minutes the NDP is going to be introducing its motion to call on Paul Martin to call for an election in January. While the "non-confidence Lite" motion has already been discredited by the government and many constitutional experts, it nonetheless represents some symbolic form of Martin's inability to retain the confidence of the House. It doesn't mean anything compared to what Harper will be doing next Tuesday when he introduces the formal motion of non-confidence, but I'm sure it's something.

There's talk going 'round the Poli Sci department about an election pool starting. When will the government fall? When will the election happen? Who will win, and will they have a majority? That sort of thing. So I'll keep all up-to-date on this as it develops.

17 November 2005

Mackay Loses Points, Pettigrew Gains Them

I've not exactly concealed the fact that I like Peter Mackay and I think that he would make a much better Tory leader than Harper. But when he says stuff like this I really have to question whether or not he's just as bad as some of the people in Ottawa that contribute to the democratic deficit.

On Thursday, Valeri was more categorical in denial of the prorogation rumour and suggested it's being floated by the opposition parties. "The only people talking about prorogation are the opposition parties," Valeri said."We have not discussed prorogation. We'd like to get supply. We'd like to continue to govern. We are not here to shut down the House. We are here to keep the House open and I have no interest in prorogation."
But MacKay said he does not believe Valeri's denial.
"I'm never more convinced of the truth of the matter then when I hear a Liberal adamantly deny it," MacKay said. "So when they're saying they're not going to prorogue I think they're seriously considering it."

I really don't know how Mackay can say something that is such blatant demagoguery and expect it not to harm his reputation on some level. I hope that he never asks me a question where my answer has to be "no," otherwise he'll be running around with obvious falsehoods and believing that they are true. He loses major points in my eyes for this purely partisan statement.

On the other hand, we have Pierre Pettigrew referring to sovereigntists as "losers," and that always scores points with me. In reference to Andre Bosclair's victory that saw him become first in line of the PQ, “It was the night of the election of the next loser, because of what the hardliners will do to him,” Mr. Pettigrew said. The truth hurts. The Quebec Liberals are salivating at having this guy carrying the separatist banner, I'm sure it cuts the powder of their agenda quite nicely. Levesque and Bouchard were far better politicians than Bosclair; in spite of whatever glue it was they were sniffing that led them to believe separatism was the way to go for Quebec, it doesn't compare to the stuff that Bosclair has ingested.

15 November 2005

I saw this today over at PoliticsWatch. In advance of the election they're doing previews of all the ridings in the country. My old hometown is by no means in jeopardy this time either. I thought that Vern Nielsen, the Liberal candidate from 2004, would be a shoo-in to repeat his attempt to win Kelowna, but apparently the riding association hasn't gotten their act together enough to get a nomination meeting. You would think that given an election can happen at any time (but likely won't until the new year), they would have sewn that up earlier this fall. Then again, I know the people that are in charge there.....

Kelowna Lake Country
Conservative MP Werner Schmidt is retiring, but Ronald Cannan is inheriting the Conservative stronghold. Schmidt won 48 per cent of the vote in 2004, 11,000 votes ahead of his Liberal challenger. A conservative party candidate has won the riding in 10 straight elections dating back to 1972. See you in Ottawa, Mr. Cannan.
Analysis: Conservative stronghold. You have to go back to Trudeaumania in 1968 to find the last time a Liberal won the riding.

14 November 2005

Why I'm Giving Up on Partisan Politics

I'm sitting here watching Duffy interview Goodale's parliamentary secretary, Monte Solberg, and some Dipper, when Duffy asks the Liberal guy what his prediction is for the forthcoming election. He predicted a fifth consecutive Liberal victory, and immediately, as if it were programmed into them, Solberg mutters "Liberal arrogance" and the the NDP woman blabbers "culture of entitlement." If someone asks a hockey player if the team going to win the big game, he's not going to say no, of course he's going to predict victory and hope for the best! It's not "arrogant" or indicative of a "culture of entitlement" to believe that your party is going to win the next election; he didn't predict a 200+ seat majority, he just said that the Liberals would win.
I loathe the extent to which our parliamentarians have it instilled in them to hit all the buzzwords and catchphrases of the day. Why can they not instead make something remotely resembling a constructive counterpoint? Why must it always be a race to the bottom?
This is the reason I don't really care to run for an elected position, I'd be much happier in a strategy room or at the higher levels of a government department. That way I could actually strive to make this country a better place without having to appease a mediocre leader who is more concerned with scoring cheap points than producing tangible results to keep Canada at the top of the heap.

13 November 2005

Quick Sunday Update

Taking a short break from reading all about methodological approaches to studying IR (very dry reading at its finest) to make a couple quick comments. First, tonight Metallica will hit the stage for the first time in almost a full year, opening for the Rolling Stones. I'll be sure to talk about it after the show and once I get my hands on a recording.
Second, word from the Globe is that the Tories are now going to introduce a motion of non-confidence on Tuesday. If that is indeed the case, and given how this past week has gone it may not be, then at least we'll be done with all of this ridiculous posturing by all of the opposition parties. I don't want an election until the spring, I'll settle for one after the new year has begun, but I don't have the time right now to spend that much time on an election campaign. I've got grad school stuff to deal with here.

12 November 2005

Some Light-Hearted Fun

1. Do you still talk to the person you lost your virginity to? Haven't in months, since it was revealed that she's loopy.
2. What would you do with 1,000 plastic spoons? Eat 1000 Snack Pack puddings.
3.What kind of music did you listen to in elementary school? Wish I could say Metallica, but basically whatever my parents had going. Dire Straits!
4.What is the best thing about your current job? Giving back to the academic community and helping out the first-year kids find their way in Political Science.
5.Do you wish cell phone etiquette was a required class? There was a kid who didn't turn his cellphone off in class last week, he got the eyes of death x25.
6. Are you against same sex marriage? I'm for it.
7. Have you been on a date in the past week? Yeah I took Tasha out last night.
8. Where are you going on your next vacation? Montreal baby!
9. Quote a song lyric: "Searchin'.....Seek and Destroy!"
10. Are most of the friends in your life new or old? A little bit of both.
11. Do you own any furniture from Ikea? Nope, the closest one is in Montreal.
12. Do you like your parents? Yes, my parents rock.
13. Do you still live with them? I live 5000km away from them.
14. What state/country are you from? currently? BC, Canada; now in Halifax, NS.
15. Tell us about the last conversation you had? Had a jolly good hour-long chat with the aunt.
16. Where do you see yourself in one month? Finishing off my last term paper of the semester.
17. What is your favorite smell? Napalm in the morning.
19. Do you consider yourself bi-polar? Sorry, I only like chicks.
20. What is the time and the outside temperature at the moment? 5:22pm, about 7 degrees.
21. Have you ever done anything vindictive to your coworkers? Possibly.
22. Have you ever gone to therapy? No.
23. Have you ever Played Spin the Bottle? No.
24. Have you ever Toilet Papered someone's house? No.
25. Have you ever liked someone but never told them? Oh yes, haven't we all?
26. Have you ever gone camping? Yes
28. Have you ever been to a nude beach? No
29. Have you ever drank jack daniels? Yes...but I'm a beer man myself.
30. Have you ever had sex on the beach? No.
31. Have you ever had a stalker? No.
32. Have you ever been in love? Yes, I am right now.
33. Have you ever gone skinny dipping? Yes.
34. Have you ever laughed so hard you cried? Yes.
35. Have you ever gone to a party where you were the only sober one? Unfortunantely...yes
36. Have you ever been cheated on? I never did have conclusive proof, but I'm pretty sure yes.
38. Have you ever felt betrayed by your best friend? Blatantly, never did get to fix that situation.
39. Have you ever felt like you were just completely rhino raped? I don't even know what that means.
40. Have you ever lied to your parents? Oh yeah
41. Have you ever been out of the US? Yes, and I've been in it too.
42. Have you ever thrown up from working out? Nope, been real sore the day after a couple times though.
43. Have you ever gotten a haircut so bad that you wore a hat for a month straight? Nope
44. Have you ever eaten 3 meals from 3 different fast food places in 1 day? Yep, happens when you're on holidays!
45. Have you ever gotten so wasted you didnt know what was going on? Nope, always been able to remain in control of a situation.
45. Have you ever spied on someone you had a crush on? No...that's kinda creepy.
46. Have you ever slept with one of your coworkers? LOL Many times...but always the same one.
47. Have you ever seen your best friend naked? No but we did the whole "you go, we go" deal.

11 November 2005

Lest We Forget

First and foremost, a Happy Remembrance Day to everybody here in Canada and around the world. Today is a very important date for all of humanity, and we must never forget the enormous amounts of sacrifice involved in guaranteeing our freedoms in two major world wars.

Reclaiming the Rhetorical High Ground

The past few months have not been kind to the Bush administration. The post-"major combat" phase of Iraq continues to plague the military and its civilian leadership. The CIA leak investigation has removed a key neoconservative architect of the war, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, from the White House. Ongoing investigations and new allegations into interrogation tactics are damaging America's claim to the moral high ground in the war on terror. The President has appeared lost and meandering in his efforts to re-define the paramteres of Iraq and Islamist terrorism, prompting early second-term charges of a "lame duck" administration. Bush has lost the support of realists over the handling of Iraq, he has alienated his conservative base with the Harriet Myers Supreme Court nominations, and he has exposed a rift in his neo-con support group. In order to shed his troubles and reclaim the rhetorical high ground at home and abroad, Bush must undertake a strong charm offensive.
To win back public support, Bush should take the following steps: first, re-articulate the strategy for securing democracy, security, and stability in Iraq that the administration had developed last year. Too often it has appeared that there is no coherent strategy to defeat Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's terrorist network. The policy outline need not constituted a timetable-based "exit strategy," but it should articulate a timeline for achieving certain political objectives in Iraq's transition: elections, attaining higher levels of Iraqi security forces training, and sealing the country's porous borders to cut off the supply of materials and terrorist recruits who are undermining the new regime in Baghdad. These items are critical to success in Iraq, and putting forward deadlines for these objectives will not hinder in any manner the American mission. Accompanying this must be a profound rhetorical campaign espousing successes for both the fledgling Iraqi government and the Bush administration. If the only news emanating from that country involves Zarqawi's successful terrorist missions, public perception in America of Iraq's progress will remain pessimistic.
Second, the Bush administration should pull an about-face and publicly embrace the McCain amendment to restrict American interrogators' ability to exert physical pressures and abusive tactics against captured terrorists. The United States has seen its image tarnished and legitimacy reduced by the scandals at Abu Ghraib and other allegations of prisoner abuse and torture. The idealist features of America's war against terrorism--liberty, justice, and human dignity--lose credibility when America engages in similar repugnant tactics as al Qaeda or Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist thugs. Liberal democracies in an age of terror must not succumb to temptations to resort to "lesser evil" tactics to secure the national interest. The United Statees needs to reclaim its Hamiltonian tradition of being a shining example of democracy, the rule of law, and human dignity. Captured terrorists possess valuable information that can be used to prevent further atrocities, and certainly interrogators must have means to extract that information, but it cannot be acquired via torture and other means that flagrantly violate the Geneva Convention if America is to retain the moral high ground in this war.
Lastly, the Bush administration must focus its attention on achieving diplomatic solutions to the crises with Iran and North Korea. Tehran must be brought into compliance with its obligations under the IAEA as well as be held accountable for President Ahmadinejad's comments about wiping Israel off the map. Assurances of peaceful intentions and maneuvers to effect "transformative change" in the posture of the Iranian regime must be pursued. North Korea's recent diplomatic performance must be viewed with skepticism; the Bush administration will not repeat Clinton's judgment errors of 1994, but it must endeavour to not make a new series of mistakes in dealing with Pyongyang. Aid and security guarantees ought to be linked to the DPRK's compliance with any new agreement on its nuclear development. The proper balance of carrots and sticks can be utilized to end this standoff and strengthen America's global security, as well as demonstrate to a Washington-wary "international community" that the United States does not possess the militaristic tendencies that many of its greatest critics routinely charge.
President Bush's legacy hinges on success in Iraq, but more importantly the image of the United States is also hanging in the balance. The administration can reclaim the initiative in the war on terror, achieve victory in its central front in Iraq, and defuse tensions in other global hot-spots, but it must be the instigator of these changes. The President famously said that America would not wait for threats to fully form before taking action; the time for action is now.

08 November 2005

I've Got It!!!

I have figured out the mess involving the potential Christmas election. Short and simple, all that talk is nothing more than demagoguing by all the parties. There is a way to avoid it, and I will now provide the answer to the big question: when will the election be?

The best option for all of the parties is for the opposition to gang up and defeat the Liberal government's supplementary on December 8th. In so doing, they will allow the opportunity for a Christmas recess and an election campaign to begin in January. Go back in history to Joe Clark's minority situation; his government was defeated on 13 December 1979, and the federal election did not take place until 18 February 1980. Counting back five weeks, the election campaign would not have started until 14 January 1980. The government generally recesses for Christmas in mid-December so the assumption that Canada would be running without a government over the holidays is of little consequence; if an emergency such as a repeat of last year's tsunami were to occur, exceptional circumstances would prevail that would permit the House to convene and deliberate an appropriate response.
By defeating the December supplemental, all of the opposition parties would be able to avoid being labelled as the ones to "pull the trigger" against the government that necessitated an early election. A campaign that begins in January would have the benefit of the second Gomery Report coming down at the start of February, giving all the parties a mid-campaign boost to their platforms and allowing them to capture the essence of his recommendations and incorporate that into their existing campaign speeches. For the Liberals, they avoid being defeated on the corruption issue, and can point to political opportunism and cowardice on the part of the opposition parties for not living up to their own platitudes. The opposition will lose that component in their campaigns, but they still have their early election and can instead use both Gomery Reports for their benefit while the first one remains on the public's mind. Saving face and sparing the voters a Christmas election should trump that small concern for the opposition parties, while giving the Liberals a small amount of wriggle room and a means to frame the election on their terms. There are positives for all parties involved here, and the relative gains vis-a-vis other confidence issues and election timing are greater for a supplementary non-confidence vote than holding a vote on any of the opposition days.

All of this Christmas election talk has got me thinking about something, and I'm going to rely on my group of readers to provide an answer for me. Let us assume that none of the opposition parties use their Opposition Days to put forward a motion of non-confidence, and instead the big day falls on December 8th when the government introduces its supplementals to keep the engine of government moving. If the opposition parties band together to defeat that, that constitutes a vote of non-confidence and thus the government falls. Does that automatically mean that an election campaign has to begin on the 9th? Can not the Prime Minister or the Governor-General exercise their prerogative power and forestall the call of the campaign until after Christmas, such as the 26th, giving a five-week campaign leading to a vote on January 30th? Surely there is some discretionary power there yes?

07 November 2005

Pulling the Plug?

Layton opens door for early election (November 7, 2005)
After rejecting a Liberal offer on health care, NDP Leader Jack Layton said his party has "no basis" to prop up the government in a confidence vote. Layton made his comments during a speech to the Canadian Club in Toronto on Monday afternoon. Layton said the NDP "cannot express confidence" in the Liberals and the time to judge the Liberals should come sooner than in the spring.


Well I can honestly say that I did not see this coming. I am very surprised that Jack Layton will not continue supporting the government until we can get the second Gomery Report in February. He's in a great position right now, and to give that up now may be premature. He's obviously read the tea leaves and feels as though it's in his best interest to get away from Martin now rather than later. Whether or not he's justified in that belief remains to be seen.
Obviously this is huge news, as we can be preparing for an election within days.
Hockey Weekend in February Just Got Better!!!

As you all know, Tash & I are going to Montreal in February to see the Habs play a couple of games. Well today I picked up a couple tickets to see a future Habs megastar play against the Halifax Mooseheads. Guillaume Latendresse, the Canadiens' second pick in this year's draft and the darling of training camp, is coming to town and we're gonna be there! The game will be on the Thursday, right before we leave to the big city. Three awesome games in 4 days! Woooooo!

05 November 2005


It's not every day that I have my existence acknowledged by someone for whom I've got a great amount of respect. Warren Kinsella is one of them, and this exchange took place on his Comments page. It ain't much, but I'll still take it. I've been a fan of Kinsella since Kicking Ass in Canadian Politics and the antics of the 2000 election, so this is a neat little moment in my morning.

Warren,I just read your speech regarding the Big Tobacco lobby and how it should and must be snuffed out. I could not agree more. Bravo to you for standing up (waaaaaay up!), sharing your intimately personal story, and for getting involved in the effort to defeat Big Tobacco. Keep on kicking ass!
Posted By Richard / Posted At 11/4/05 9:33 AM
Thanks man. I plan to.
Posted By Warren K / Posted At 11/4/05 9:35 AM

31 October 2005

'Twas the Day Before Gomery

Tomorrow the Gomery Report will be issued, and no doubt we will be treated to some fireworks and damning allegations. Have we heard the worst already? I'm inclined to believe so. Paul Martin will probably be exonerated from many of the barbs tossed at him by his Conservative opponents, and the people who deserve to get the book thrown at them most certainly will. There may be some findings that put Chretien-era Liberals in trouble, but I don't believe that the party itself will be found to be guilty of much of the mudslinging that it has been on the receiving end of since this whole mess began. The ad agencies and Chuck Guite, not a Liberal but a senior bureaucrat, will be the ones who are found most at fault here. Because it happened while the Liberals were in power, there will be some blowback, but not to the extent that we will wake up on Wednesday morning with polls showing the Liberals in Campbell Conservative territory.

This will be Martin's greatest test, and we will see if he's got a Teflon suit in his closet. We know that Chretien had them in every colour, it is time to find out if Martin does as well. As I said, I don't believe that Gomery will come down hard on either him or Chretien, and that should permit the Liberals to move on and move forward. With the scandals of a bygone era now revealed and resolved, Martin's time to shine is on the horizon.

22 October 2005

A Fun Litmus Test

I found an article this morning that lists a few criteria for neoconservatives. Just for kicks, I thought I'd copy and paste it here, and provide my own views....

Anti-communism -- Yes
Skepticism about the efficacy of international institutions -- Yes
A preoccupation with the concept of the “political” as producing unending conflict -- Sometimes
An endorsement of “natural right”--the notion that justice should be based on nature rather than convention--as the foundation for domestic institutions -- Not sure
The belief that “virtue,” as well as self-interest, matters in political life -- Yes
A repugnance toward the relativism in modern liberal society -- Yes
A marked skepticism about the potential for the physical and social sciences to fundamentally ameliorate the human condition -- Not sure, but it sounds good
A pronounced anti-egalitarian stance -- I'm not sure how pronounced, but yes.
And a deep wariness about utopian political projects -- Yes

Hmmm, well how about that, it looks like I'm a neoconservative.

20 October 2005

Looking Ahead to the Next Election

Following hot on the heels of Jason Cherniak, I'm going to do a little election forecasting of my own. First, no matter how hard Stephen Harper tries to convince himself, the Conservatives, and apparently now the NDP (see today's National Post), there is not going to be an election the day after we open our Christmas presents. It is unfathomable to me why a man who has conceded that the Tories will not win the next election is determined nonetheless to bring down the relatively-stable minority Parliament to force an election before the full results of the Gomery Commission are known. Strategic timing does not seem to be an issue for Harper. Why would he want an election campaign ongoing when all that people are thinking about is the holiday shopping season? Voter participation in this country is already declining, and expecting people to take notice of an unnecessary election is not the way to reverse that trend. That said, the election will happen within the 30 day window of Gomery's final report, so March it is then.

As for the actual outcome, a lot of that will of course hinge upon what is actually in the pages of the Gomery report. Like Cherniak, I'm expecting that Martin will not have the finger of blame pointed at him. As I was explaining to my father last night, the Minister of Finance doesn't sign cheques for the Public Accounts Committee, he spends his time determining Canada's fiscal balance and directing economic policy accordingly. Whether or not Martin "knew" if something inappropriate was occurring is not relevant to his accountability to Parliament. The government accountability structure incorporates the idea that ministers are accountable and answerable to all activities which take place in their departments. If a civil servant in Public Works is doing something illegal or inappropriate, the onus of responsibility falls on the Minister whether he knows of the activities or not. The centrepiece of our system of responsible government is that the government is answerable for all things to Parliament, and must be accountable for them as well. This is the purpose of Question Period: it gives the opposition parties a means to keep the government in check. For that reason, Chuck Guite and Alfonso Gagliano are going to be in a lot of trouble when we find the results of Gomery's work. As the top civil servant and the Minister of the Public Works department at the time of these wrongdoings, they will be held responsible. At that point, it falls on the Liberal campaign people to state that these 'crimes' were not endemic to the Liberal Party and were the sole actions of a handful of people in that department, and that the Prime Minister (current and past) were not involved in those activities.

Also, because the Conservatives have done such a poor job of holding the government to account and been so focused on dissolving Parliament, they have essentially short-circuited themselves. They have not worked dilligently on building a base in Quebec, leaving that seat-rich province largely in the hands of the Bloc and the Liberals (I think that the hostility in Quebec vis-a-vis the Liberals will abate somewhat after Gomery, but the Bloc will still put on a strong performance, maybe 40-45 seats). They also haven't really developed themselves as a strong, national alternative to the Liberals, and on many occasions in recent months when they were on the losing end of decisions their commentaries had a tinge of anti-Canadianism to them, as opposed to their prescribed anti-Liberal sentiments. Referring to the country as a "banana republic without the banana" is not the way to endear a party to the public. I can't see them picking up too many more seats from the last election, and possibly even losing a few in the more hotly-contested regions. I'll give them 90-95 for right now.

That brings us to the NDP. Jack Layton has done a great job in this minority Parliament of using the NDP's 19 (now 18) seats as leverage to get his agenda across in exchange for supporting the Liberals. He's taking a bit of flak for booting out an MP who voted against SSM, but that aside he's had a very good run. I'm going to predict a small downturn for the NDP and allot them 12 seats. There is a political current in this country that favours majority governments, and though they like Layton, quite a few people on the left are going to hold their noses and vote Liberal this time around.

As I do the numbers, on the high end for the Bloc and the Conservatives there are 140 (130 at the low), plus the NDP's dozen, that does provide a recipe for a Liberal majority. It will not be the comfortable majority that Chretien enjoyed, but it will be a majority nonetheless. Martin has demonstrated that he is capable of governing, and though there are some deficiencies in his democratic parliamentary reform agenda (by all means, feel free to ask me for a copy of my term paper), he has done an effective job of leading Parliament in a difficult situation. Should the Gomery Report exonerate him, as I believe it will, he will be rewarded with his first majority mandate.

17 October 2005

Every now and again something has to fall under the axe. I really like this part of my paper but alas it had to fall under the axe. Because I'd hate to see something fall into the dustbin of history, here it is, call it an "exclusive" I guess.

The Chretien-Martin Rivalry
During the years which Chretien served as Prime Minister, there were frequent reports of tension between him and his popular Finance Minister, Martin. Relations had begun acrimoniously, when Chretien defeated Martin at the Liberal Party’s 1990 leadership convention in a particularly nasty campaign. Nonetheless, they were an effective duo in government. As a reward (or bone of appeasement) for his efforts in creating the Liberals’ election strategy for the 1993 campaign, Martin, not the leader, was the one selected to unveil the platform, the famous “Red Book.”[i] After the election, however, Chretien moved to ensure that Martin was under close watch. Even though Finance is at the centre of the centre of power, and Martin had (and still has) a reputation as a “hands-on” leader, he still found himself at odds with Chretien’s style of leadership that often saw the Prime Minister relying “heavily on his coterie of advisers at the centre of government, especially in the PMO and PCO, to govern from the centre via the command mode of cabinet government.”[ii] The growing power in the PMO has been described as a “hierarchical political system” which makes a mockery of “the trappings of egalitarianism” in Parliament.[iii] That concentration of power would become a major foundation for Martin’s agenda to reduce the democratic deficit which Chretien had helped to propagate while in power. Thus, long before the tensions between Chretien and Martin exploded in 2002, when Martin was relegated to the backbenches, there were clear signs that the relationship was destined to end in bitterness.
The rift first became glaringly evident during the 2000 election campaign. By this time, Martin’s star was dramatically rising as a result of consecutive balanced budgets, while many in the Liberal Party were speculating Chretien had become tired and was stagnating the party and the government. Though Chretien had profited politically from Martin’s work in Finance, he remained weary of Martin’s ambitions and thus sought to publicly air the notion that while appreciative, he still held the dominant position of influencing Martin’s career in a decisive fashion as long as he remained the Prime Minister.[iv] The television images of Chretien and Martin walking together, discussing their shared vision of Canada, was political cynicism at its finest. Less publicly, Chretien began to discuss his great concerns surrounding Martin, fearing that he would be “soft on separatists and too eager to grant concessions to the provinces.”[v]
The situation would continue to get progressively worse. Chretien’s open talk of running for a fourth term to solidify his legacy as the only modern prime minister to win four consecutive majorities was the final straw for the Martin camp. The considerable power Martin had come to wield in the Liberal Party essentially forced Chretien to capitulate and announce his retirement, to take effect in February 2004, in the summer of 2002.[vi] There has been ex post facto speculation amongst Liberal insiders that the date is very significant, as though Chretien had been anticipating the outbreak of the sponsorship scandal, and whether he was in essence offering to weather the storm of that scandal before turning over leadership to Martin. To this day, members of Martin’s staff refuse to acknowledge the accomplishments of “the previous administration,” a break from the Liberal tradition of celebrating the past great deeds of party leaders and prime ministers.[vii]
[i] Warren Kinsella, Kicking Ass in Canadian Politics, (Toronto: Random House, 2001), 116.
[ii] Peter Aucoin, “Prime Minister and Cabinet: Power at the Apex,” James Bickerton and Alain G. Gagnon, eds., Canadian Politics, 3rd ed., (Peterborough: Broadview, 1999), 126.
[iii] Jeffery Simpson, “Canadian Politics and One-Party Government,” Policy Options 22.1 (2001), 19. Simpson would follow up this article with a book entitled The Friendly Dictatorship, a penetrating view of the extent to which Chretien was a hands-on leader.
[iv] Robert J. Jackson et al., North American Politics: Canada, USA, and Mexico in a Comparative Perspective, (Toronto: Prentice-Hall, 2004), 90.
[v] Susan Delacourt, Juggernaut: Paul Martin’s Campaign for Chretien’s Crown, (Toronto: McClellandand Stewart, 2003), 98.
[vi] Anne McIlroy, “Revenge of ousted Chretien,” The Guardian 26 Aug. 2002. 7 Oct. 2005.
[vii] Delacourt, Juggernaut, 307. The comments regarding “the previous administration” have been experienced first-had repeatedly in discussions of policy between the author and people from the Martin PMO.
I Still Know How to Write a Term Paper!

It's funny, over two years since having to do my last term papers, I still manage to get myself into the same position as I once did as an undergraduate. Upon seeing the size of the task spelled out in front of me I initially wonder just how I am going to fulfill the required word count while still producing X number of important words. Every one of them "should" count for something, whether setting the stage or being at the heart of the argument. When I first saw the requirements of my Advanced Seminar in Canadian Politics paper, I must admit that I gulped. 7500 words is a lot of writing, 25% more than I'd ever done before. Plus, theories of responsible government and Paul Martin's "democratic deficit"-reducing agenda were not at the top of my list. Still fairly high, but not the top. So, as usual, I drafted up my outline, stuck to it, and now I find myself having done 1500 additional words. After some quick cutting of repetitive sections it's down to 8400-ish. I'm tempted to leave it as is, but there are probably a couple of sections which can be cut down or chopped out entirely. This always used to happen. Start out wondering how the heck I'm supposed to get that much written, and finish by cutting many excellent passages out of the text. It's reassuring to know that my research skills are still in good shape, and that I still enjoy writing term papers. This was a fun project, and if I find a way, I'll put a .pdf up on the 'Net for all to read. Or you can request it and I'll just email to you. Anyways, back to the reading & writing.

13 October 2005

Good Riddance!

The word is out: Carolyn Parrish, the "maverick" (as if it's a badge of honour, and I'm sure that Tom Cruise's "Top Gun" character would hate seeing his codename usurped by the likes of Parrish) former Liberal MP, has announced she will not be running for re-election whenever Parliament ends up dissolving. You know that when Kinsella and the PMO can agree that this is a wonderful thing it is a consensus that the country is better off without her involved in our political process. Long-time readers of this space will know that I am by no means a fan of hers, and I once publicly mused that Paul Martin should muzzle her/she should just shut up. In the long run, I guess this means I won yes?

12 October 2005

Why Don't the Harper Conservatives Realize the Importance of Quebec?

I didn't make much of a big deal of the handful of former Conservative candidates in Quebec who demanded Stephen Harper's resignation, on the grounds that they were essentially token candidates who had very little chance of being elected in a province that has only two strong political organizations, the Bloc Quebecois and the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party. A small number of voices in the wilderness calling for the head of a leader who still remains very popular with his base doesn't exactly foster a coup mentality.
However, an article that I read at the Globe & Mail today really makes me wonder if Harper truly desires the brass ring of the prime minister. The party does not even have a provincial wing in Quebec and does not appear to be in any rush to establish one. In this age of minority government and a multi-party system, is it really sound strategy to just forsake 75 seats in Parliament and expect to form a government? Further, given the strength of the Bloc Quebecois at this time, does it make any sense at all to attempt forming a government that has no representatives from Canada's second-largest province? This would give the Bloc an enormous amount of leverage in Parliament; the Liberals, even with their decreased standing in the province, still have enough people from Quebec to be able to act effectively with the Bloc and its constituents to soothe the needs of Quebeckers. A Tory government would have to work as a coalition with the separatists, giving the Liberals numerous fusillades for a future election, and the Bloc's agenda would become highly prominent in Parliament's business.
Harper must realize at some point that he is impinging on his party's efforts to be viewed as more than the old Reform Party. Obviously it is very important to him and his party's electoral fortunes to retain their base in the West and continue their breakthrough efforts in Ontario. However, without a legitimate appeal to Quebec the party simply will not be perceived as a true national alternative to the Liberal Party.

08 October 2005

That's a Road Trip!!!

3-0 to start out the season, on the road, against Original Six teams. Boston, NY Rangers, and Toronto. All have gone down in successive order. What great games too! There's been a lot of anxious moments and Theodore hasn't been at the top of his game yet, but these guys are finding ways to win. It makes for great excitement and I can't wait to watch this season unfold. Also, the tickets for Super Bowl weekend showed up the other day. Mega-stoked for the February trip.

06 October 2005

Hockey's back!

Ahh it's so nice to see hockey again. The Habs won and the Leafs lost, so the season is off to a great start!

Liberals Giving Us Free Money!

I'm a fan of free money, especially when it's my money anyways. The Liberals are going to be introducing legislation that will give all Canadians a share of the federal budget surplus. This is excess money that they tax us for but did not use this past year. Thank the soaring costs of gasoline and budgetary cuts for all of this. So hopefully by the end of the year there will be a nice cheque in the mail from the federal government.
Now for the part that I'm not such a big fan of. We still have a large debt, the Canadian Forces are still a mess, the Foreign Service is depleted, and there are bigger fish to fry than giving a tax rebate of a couple hundred bucks. This is an election ploy, pure and simple.

John McCain is awesome

With issues such as Abu Ghraib and other tales of torture and abuse by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan fresh in mind, Republican Senator John McCain led the initiative for a law that would make it illegal for any American soldier in any region of the world to utilize tactics that could be construed as torture. This will see the Geneva Convention more rigidly enforced by the US. And this morning that legislation passed through the Senate by a margin of 90-9. The copy of McCain's highly elegant speech after this law passed can be found here at Andrew Sullivan's site.

George Bush Delivers Major Speech

As I'm typing this I'm listening to GWB deliver a major speech regarding the war on terrorism. It sounds to me like somebody very intelligent has written this speech and drawn from a number of excellent sources that are certainly familiar to me. He's dropped the "they hate us for our freedom" bit and is talking very candidly about "Why They Hate Us." It's actually a brilliant speech and he's definitely hitting one out of the park. He hasn't done any of the smirking or the usual swagger; this is the President Bush that we saw right after 9/11 and in the immediate run-up to the war in Iraq. He's serious, he's focused, and he's delivering the same message that many people in the academic field have been saying for years now. Thumbs up to Bush today. The links will be all over the 'Net later, you don't need me to help out.

03 October 2005

Happy October

Hard to believe it's already been more than a month since I jumped on a plane for Halifax. How quickly the time flies by. In two days I'll be watching the Habs play for real. And with sound, as it seems a CBC deal has been reached. I'm already ankle-deep in term paper stuff (give it a week and it'll be waist-), trying to find good articles about neoconservatism and find out more info on how good Martin has done in his job of remedying the "democratic deficit" that supposedly plagues this country.

One newsbite that I'd like to talk about. It was just announced that one of Bush's top aides has been nominated to the Supreme Court to fill the role left by Sandra Day O'Connor. This woman has no formal judicial experience. She's a fierce Bush loyalist, compared by Andrew Sullivan to be a female version of Alberto Gonzalez. Now, I'm a pretty well-known Bush supporter when it comes to foreign policy; my capacity to care much about his domestic policy is limited due to the fact that I'm a Canadian living in Canada. But, here we are, just a month after Katrina and the fury and outrage over a non-experienced, Bush loyalist in the capacity of an emergency preparedness and disaster response co-ordinator having spectacularly dropped the ball, and we get another Bush "family friend" getting a very high-profile position. This one has an incredible amount of power to render decisions affecting the Constitution of the United States. My prediction is that Harriet Miers is going to have a very difficult time making it past the confirmation process. If I'm a Democrat, I'm salivating wildly because Bush has just served up a hanging curveball and I've been dying to hit one of his pitches out of the park for a very long time now.
I don't like cronyism in Canada, and I see no reason why I would like it in the United States either. It breeds corruption, and given the volume of accusations lobbied by the anti-Bush camp regarding corruption in his administration, does he really need to be giving his opponents more arsenal? I think even his staunch supporters will have a hard time justifying this one and agreeing that she was the best choice for the position. She has zero experience as a judge, and she's more qualified to be a Supreme Court judge than someone who has been serving in a federal court for 20 or 30 years? George, you're without me on this one. Let's talk seriously about Iran or North Korea, but I won't follow you down this path.

26 September 2005

To vote, or not to vote, this fall

This bit from The Globe's website is my candid response to the announcement yesterday made by Martin that the Liberals will not engineer their own defeat in Parliament this fall to bring about an early election.

In spite of the Liberal membership card which I proudly carry in my wallet, I've disagreed with Paul Martin on a number of occasions in the past year. He should have stuck to his guns and allowed the promised parliamentary debate on ballistic missile defence to occur. He should have stuck to his six-point "democratic deficit" reform promises and done more to act as the new kind of leader that he once seemed to be, instead of rewarding his insiders with plumb political postings that were a little too Chretien-esque. He should have been quicker to act against Carolyn Parrish. He should have been stronger on softwood lumber and BSE. The list goes on.

However, on this issue, I agree wholeheartedly with Paul Martin. There is no need to call an election before the Gomery Report is delivered to Canadians. There is no great debate over Canadian public policy that is calling into question the confidence of the government. It appears to me that the people who are demanding an election now are the same ones who were furious that the Liberals called an election last year, only three and a half years into the last mandate given to the Chretien-led Liberals. These are the people who want an election for the sake of having an election, because there is no good policy-, security-, or confidence-based reason to spend $250 million until we have heard from Gomery. I have long advised people that if they desire a field of study or interest that is barren of hypocrisy to stay out of politics, but this is one occasion in which the hypocrisy of the people is outweighing the hypocrisy of the politicians.

21 September 2005

Mackay tips his hand?

There are an increasing number of people calling for Stephen Harper to resign. We all know about the four Quebec candidates (people of little consequence given the party's standing in La Belle Province), but today the vice-chair of the Tories' Toronto council joined in on the choir. This is obviously something that has to be taken a little more seriously. Interestingly, this happened to be ran on the Globe's website:

Deputy Leader Peter MacKay shrugged off the criticism and said it was not widely held.
Unfortunately [my italics], this is a small group in the party,” Mr. MacKay said.

Now this could be one of those cases in which someone either misspoke or was misquoted, but when one just takes a look at that they've got to think that perhaps Peter Mackay is waiting not-so-patiently in the wings for the putsch against Harper. I've got to say that it's borderline incomprehensible to me that the Tories aren't vastly ahead in the polls, but due to Harper's mismanagement of the Adscam affair and his inability to definitively criticize the Chretien-esque practice of Martin appointing political buddies to plum political appointments, that is not the case. I guess maybe that makes it less incomprehensible to me. Either way, the knives are slowly but surely being sharpened for one Stephen Harper.

Lastly, I just found this on the Globe's discussion site on an article pertaining to the JTF2 killing people in Afghanistan.

19 September 2005

North Korean Breakthrough

It is all over the newspages today that there has been an agreement in principle for North Korea to drop its nuclear weapons arsenal and programs. The deal was largely brokered by China (another sign of its growing soft power) but could not have come into force without concessions made by the United States and the DPRK. Under the terms of the deal, the North will give up its current stockpile (believed to be around 13 nuclear weapons), open the country to IAEA inspectors, and re-sign the NPT. The United States, for its part, acknowledged that it does not have nuclear weapons in the Korean Peninsula and concedes to the DPRK's right to have nuclear energy. It is likely that a light-water reactor will be provided to the Koreans to ensure that it is not utilized for devious purposes.

It's interesting because I was just having a discussion with a friend last night about what will happen in the next three years for Bush. I was saying that three years is a lifetime in politics and that it is possible that by then Iraq, Iran, and North Korea could all see their predicaments resolved. He didn't believe me. Well, we're a third of the way there, and this new diplomatic breakthrough could have a spill-over effect into the negotiations with Tehran.

17 September 2005

Guess who has Habs tickets?

Yes that's right I do, I do! Well not just me, but Tasha too! We've got tickets for the two Super Bowl weekend games in early February. We get to see the Canadiens take on Boston on Saturday afternoon and then on Super Sunday it's a matinee against Philadelphia. As you can well imagine I'm looking forward to seeing the Habs against the hated B's, and with Philly looking stacked (on paper) this season that should be one hell of a great game. Bet your bippy that we're gonna do a bunch of sight-seeing in Montreal while we're there too. Happy as punch about this deal with Munro Day in Nova Scotia, it's allowing me to have a five-day weekend, a bunch of which will be spent in the great city of Montreal. Happy times abound!

16 September 2005

Pettigrew on the outs?

This is a particularly upsetting story for me to read. It seems that Pierre Pettigrew, a man with whom I've held several enjoyable conversations, is in a lot of hot water with the PMO these days. There's suggestions that his actions in recent months have upset a lot of Martin's staffers and since the PM is such a micro-manager there have been maneuvers to take power away from Pettigrew and put it into the PMO again. Isn't this type of activity exactly what Martin vowed to eliminate in his efforts to reduce the "democratic deficit?" His strongest arguments against the Chretien regime was that the PMO was too powerful and stifling the work of MPs and some Cabinet members; now he's doing the exact same thing to a very good politician and a good man. You can bet your bottom dollar I'll be bringing up this issue next week in my Canadian politics seminar as evidence that Martin's six-point plan isn't being taken all that seriously by its drafter.

15 September 2005

No sooner said than...

From the Globe:

Prime Minister Paul Martin says neither he nor his ministers will cross a CBC picket line set up outside of the Senate for governor-general designate Michaƫlle Jean's swearing-in ceremony, which means the event may not proceed on Sept. 27 as planned.
"I don't cross picket lines," Mr. Martin said.


Is this actually true? Is the being back in school making me see things that aren't there? Paul, it's not your people picketing!! It's OK if you and the government go across the CBC's line in order to do the work of the nation. Show some backbone! What is more important: swearing in Canada's new head of state or respecting the solidarity position of a labour union? Let me just say this: if it were me, I'd have the guys in the black jackets move some people out of the way so that I can take care of government business.
Paul "The Strikeout" Martin?

I'll admit that my confidence in the current PM has been shaken greatly since the fall of 2003, but I certainly wouldn't make the same error in judgment made by Brian Mulroney. Seems that in the new book (you know the one) he referred to the "young Paul Martin" as a "strikeout" that didn't have much talent when it came to leadership (resisting temptation, resisting temptation) and that John Turner was the best of the bunch. I'll give Mulroney a little slack, the comment was made in the early 1990s, but this is just one more example of him missing the boat pretty dramatically.

13 September 2005

Yep I've still got what it takes to be able to carry myself through an intellectual discussion. This has been a great day. I've also done two paper summaries this afternoon. It feels good.