31 January 2006

Tuesday Musings

I was going to post about this yesterday, but then I got distracted by something shiny and spent the rest of the day doing that. Something along those lines. Anyways, Adam Radwanski's National Post column was, as usual, top-notch. His tale of being a former Young Liberal resonated with me, largely because you could substitute a few proper nouns and his tale would greatly resemble my own. I never got as involved in the YLC as he did, but I can certainly recall events that demontsrated just how stacked the organization was in favour of Martin backers. Their ideas of legalizing prostitution and marijuana, rejecting BMD, and a schwack of other policies are just not in touch with what I believe in, but just as important in my desire to distance myself from the YLC is something that Radwanski nailed on the head: "It's slightly embarrassing to look back on my time in their party: the obsessing over meaningless youth politics...the unquestioning commitment to whichever politician [happened to be in charge...these guys loved the Martin Kool-Aid...look at Cherniak]...the embrace of a party that was so much more about ambition and opportunism than any sort of values."
Technically speaking if I were to rejoin the Liberals I would be considered a Youth member until after I'm 25. There's nary a snowball's chance in Honolulu I'll be going back to the party until I'm not going to be affiliated with that lot. They've done some good deeds over the years, pressing for equality of same-sex couples under the law since long before Paul Martin thought it was a Charter of Rights issue, and for that I applaud their efforts. But this other stuff, no thanks. Women are not a commodity to be bought for sexual pleasure and summarily discarded. There's a reason prostitution carries a "negative social stigma," because it's a negative social activity that has links to organized crime, drug trafficking, et al. Legalizing it would in no way remove the degrading nature of what Michael Ignatieff describes as a "terrible experience...To be naked before a stranger is to be deprived of decency and also of agency." It would not "empower" women, it would not eliminate or reduce the fear in women of being raped; indeed, for every woman who has ever been raped or sexually assaulted, legalizing prostitution would be a slap in the face because it would be giving legal sanction for men to deprive women of their decency and agency in exchange for a few dollars.

29 January 2006

Maybe this Harper-as-PM Thing is a Good Thing

One of Stephen Harper's big planks in his election platform was introducing mandatory sentences for serious drug offenders. Some may view this is a reaction to the events in Alberta at the Roszko farm, in which 4 RCMP officers were killed while making a raid on a major-league grow-op. To that I say, "Good." It turns out that my stance is something that the King of Pot, Marc Emery, may disagree with, given that he's got a vested interest in drug dealers being allowed to run free in Canada. From the Toronto Star:

"He faces extradition charges by the U.S. in the B.C. Supreme Court resulting from the sale of marijuana seeds online, which is legal in Canada.
If the court agrees the U.S. has the right to extradite Emery, the case will go to the new Tory justice minister. Emery believes the minister will send him to the U.S., where he has been charged with conspiring to manufacture and distribute marijuana seeds and to engage in money laundering.
"The DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) called me `the number one drug trafficking kingpin in Canada,'" Emery said. If he's convicted, the penalty could be steep. "I'm looking at 30 to 35 years.""

I'd be lying if I said that bothered me. Even if he gets off on the BC Supreme Court case, I hope that Harper moves quickly on the mandatory sentencing and that this creep gets locked away for a very long time.


I have to give Ted Byfield in today's Calgary Sun a lot of credit for making this proposal to Harper for his first Speech from the Throne. It's got gusto and frankly, it would be a winner.

"Suppose he reasoned that now, rather than later, is the time to introduce the legislation the Liberals and most of the media don't like. This would include repealing the disastrous gun control law, restoring to the provinces the powers that Liberal governments have usurped, vastly strengthening the Armed Forces and regaining the confidence of the United States by restoring Canada's role in continental defence. Then there is cutting the GST to 6%, paying a day-care allowance to parents (rather than a federally-funded day-care system) and allowing a free vote on a bill to repeal the gay marriage law passed by the Liberals. Suppose he forgot about making "clever deals" for support with the Bloc or the NDP or anybody, and instead called the house, laid this program before Parliament in the Throne Speech and, bill by bill, introduced it all for first reading.
As abuse fell upon him from the other side of the house, he would have a ready reply: "We intend to act on our promises," he could say. "We are not like you. We do not regard promises made during an election campaign as inconsequential, as one of your former prime ministers once declared. We do what we say we're going to do.""

Knowing full well the fiscal state of the Liberal Party and the unwillingness of the electorate to go through yet another $250M election campaign, Harper would do well to follow this advice. He's been given a mandate and now is the time to start acting on it. I don't agree with everything that is in the platform, most notably SSM, though since Harper's bill would likely be defeated anyway, it makes sense to introduce it to mollify the so-cons and be forthright in his intentions. Once it goes down he can move on to the real issues. Chuck Strahl nails it right here:

Veteran Conservative MP Chuck Strahl believes all five of his party's priorities are "very doable." Like it or not, opposition leaders have a duty to accept that Canadians voted for the Conservative platform and should not be "obstructionist," he added.
"Primarily there's an obligation to try and make things work," he said. "If not this, then what? It would be hard for the government to say we're going to toss this out and go ahead with the Liberals' tax package. It would be illogical for the government to do that, and I don't know how another party could say we didn't get nearly the support we did in the election but we think we should still have our own way on this."

We're in for a very interesting and politically exciting next few months. Harper's going to be under the lens big-time, since the Liberals will in the next election campaign be running not on what Harper might do, but what he did do in his first mandate.

24 January 2006

Future Prospects for the Liberal Party

In one of life's funny twists, Paul Martin the leadership candidate was the reason I joined the Liberal Party, but Paul Martin the leader was the reason I left it. The past year has been nothing but a string of disappointments, to the extent that I viewed Martin as having zero credibility on just about any issue. I am looking forward to the forthcoming leadership race, but I believe that two or three preconditions are necessary for any candidate to become the next Liberal Prime Minister:
1. It must be someone "clean," who cannot be identified as being in either the Chretien or Martin camps, otherwise the internecine warfare will continue.
2. It cannot be someone from Quebec, as the Liberal brand in that province is going to be reeling from Adscam for many months and perhaps years to come. This has an effect on both Quebecers and people outside of Quebec, and to reach out a new leader cannot have the stigma associated with them.
3. They must not take on the same persona of exemplifying the party or taking the heavy-handed approach of labelling Liberal Party values "Canadian values." That type of approach turns people off; many people I know who are progressives reject the Kyoto Protocol because it is simply unsustainable for Canada and wasn't based on rational decision-making, but rather photo optics.
4. The leader must have a strongly-defined set of core principles, explain them clearly, and not waffle on them in order to cater to the public opinion polls. I have said it, and so has Grit and many others, that Martin attempted to be all things to all people. In so doing, he ended up alienating many people. If a leader establishes a series of broadly-based principles, they can be many things to many people, and that increases the odds of catching swing voters much more than staking out a divisive position.
These are my recommendations. If I had to pick a handful of prominent Liberals who are potential candidates, who meet the requirements of my first two premises I would say: Michael Ignatieff, Frank McKenna, Belinda Stronach, and Maurizio Belivacqua. These are the folks that will be seeing their names thrown around a lot in the coming days and weeks, and we will see who emerges.

My greatest concern with some Liberals is that they are advocating a view that there will be another election within a year. As others in the world have already stated, the Liberal Party is broke, $34M in the hole. They got less than 6 million votes last night, meaning they will only receive about $10.5M from the $1.75 per vote formula this year. Once Harper rams through the FAA and clamps down on the corporate donations, the Liberals will be further hamstrung because they won't have Bay Street to rely upon anymore. They will remain in debt for some time, not to mention the other parties.
Also to be considered is voter fatigue. Canadians do not want to have to go through another 36 days of the same stuff that they've had to deal with in this campaign. I've read numerous comments about the dirtiness of this campaign, and people simply do not want their televisions, newspapers, etc., cluttered with more of this type of behaviour for a long time. Woe be to the party who brings about a premature end to this Parliament.
Also of some concern is this statement made by a prominent Martinite blogger: "the Conservatives really are not in any position to put their agenda through the House." Yes they are. They control the government, their members constitute the executive, and we have all seen in recent years the concentration of power in the executive. If a prime minister wants to pass legislation, he will make it happen. Being in a minority, in this instance, will not hamstring Harper because of what I have already mentioned. Even dealing from this position of only minor strength, he can still put the other parties over a barrel on the major planks of his agenda and anything that results in a matter of confidence.
This process to replace Martin will take at least 6 months to a full year. I would be truly shocked if there was a full Leadership Convention before September. It will take a few months after that to establish the new leader, rebuild the party internally and in the House of Commons to get them some real momentum going. They must not jump on the first opportunity to bring down Harper; patience is going to be the ultimate virtue for the Liberals in the coming months. Allow Harper to develop a record of governance, and in the areas in which he is found wanting, provide a POSITIVE alternative. I cannot stress the POSITIVE enough. I truly hope that future elections will be as policy-based as this was, minus the asinine negativity. If that happens, we can win again. Don't rush it. Rebuild. Refocus. Regain.
Well the election is in the bag. The sun still came up today, so that's a good thing. I feel comfortable knowing this. A couple weeks ago I said that Martin would be lucky to last two days after the election as leader of the party; instead, he fell on his own sword last night. Probably the right thing to do, which is the first time in a while I've acknowledged Martin doing the right thing. I will admit that it is a little sad that he has been reduced to this, if only for nostalgia's sake, but after the events of the past year and my regular clashes with his decisions, it's much less sad than it could have been. That said, I am looking forward to seeing who steps up for the nomination process for the Liberals' leadership race. If it ends up boiling down to Ignatieff or McKenna, both of whom would make an excellent successor, I will most definitely renew the membership that I allowed to lapse last December.

Harper is currently the man, but he's going to have to work very hard to stay at the top of the mountain. Though the Canadian people are weary and tired of voting, if Harper makes even one major gaffe, he will likely be raked over the coals by a stronger-than-expected opposition and we'll find ourselves doing the voting thing again. Good luck to him in what can be described only as the most difficult job in the country.

Predictions and such, dating back to December 30th....

What I said on December 30th:
Conservatives: 122 Liberals: 92 Bloc Quebecois: 66 NDP: 28

What I said on the 22nd on Cherniak's blog:
Conservative 159 Liberal 80 NDP 23 Bloc 46

It appears as though I should have stuck with my original prediction eh?

1. Will any party win more than 155 seats? No. Good call!
2. Will any party capture more than 35% of the national popular vote? Yes. 2/2
3. Will the Bloc Quebecois win more than 55 seats? Yes, probably more than 60. Sometimes it's good to be wrong.
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. See #3.
5. Will the Conservatives win more than 30 seats in Ontario? Yep. Called it.
6. Will the NDP win more than 25 seats nationally? Yes, I think they'll get upwards of 30. Got this one too!
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. This is a sad one too, I really like McLellan and Parliament is worse off not having her in its corridors.
8. Will the Conservatives win any seats in Quebec? Yes, close to 5. More like ten, but I was still right.
9. Will the Green Party elect its first-ever MP? Nope. Harris' boys continue to remain on the outside.
10. Will the Liberals elect MPs in all 10 provinces? No, see #7. 8/10
11. Will Michael Ignatieff win in Etobicoke-Lakeshore? I hope so, and I believe he will. Right.
12. Will more than 3 current Cabinet ministers fail to win re-election? Definitely, and you can start with Jean Lapierre. Unfortunately he got re-elected, but upwards of 10 were defeated.
13. Will Jean Lapierre be re-elected? NO 10/13
14. Will the NDP's Olivia Chow be elected? Yes, especially in the aftermath of the chow chow debacle. 11/14

Not a bad predictor of things.

It was a fun night, Canadians got the government they chose, let us now see if they will live up to the promises made during this rather long but exciting campaign. Congratulations to Mr. Harper and also to my local MP, Alexa McDonough, for her re-election. Even though I supported Andrew House, Alexa is a fair and honest leader in the House, and I'm glad that she took half an hour out of her night to chat with me. Her campaign people are also quite nice. Looking forward to Election 200(?) when I'm hopefully in Ottawa!

23 January 2006


I'm just on my way out the door to do something that I never thought, during my days as a Liberal, I would ever do. But, times change, people grow, politicians make a series of campaign pledges that have strong appeal, and all that jazz. It's been a fun eight weeks, and it's going to be a fun evening watching all the results coming in to signal who will lead Canada starting tomorrow.

Get out there and do your part!

22 January 2006

I'm not going to beat a dead horse too badly here, but I was watching some of CBC's "Your Turn with Paul Martin" tonight. One of the questions regarded Martin's spur-of-the-moment idea to revoke the notwithstanding clause, and whether Martin actually supported the undemocratic idea of giving nine non-elected judges the authority to overrule the elected legislature without any possibility of Parliament being able to check that power. Martin's response: "Absolutely." Then he proceeded to drag out the abortion issue, because apparently the Harper folks have a "road map" to bring in legislation, and I'm firmly tongue-in-cheek here after reading Ann Coulter's recent column, to remove a woman's right to have sex with men they don't especially like. Now, I'm quite progressive on a lot of things, and I've stated in published comments that I'm in favour of same-sex marriage, but I'm personally opposed to abortion, and I know that a lot of other people in this country are too, including at one point in his life before he thought public opinion was in favour of abortions, Paul Martin. That said, the law is the law, and the Conservatives have no actual agenda to make overturning this law a priority. It's a ridiculous debate in the United States, to the extent that Roe v. Wade is the litmus test for whether or not a Supreme Court nominee will be approved/rejected by the Democrats/Republicans, and I really, truly hope that Canada can avoid turning its politics into that type of grotesque political theatre.

How is it that a man who once committed to eliminating the democratic deficit and making Parliament the setting for "the great debates" of Canadian public policy say such a thing? First, his newfound preference for judicial supremacy is based exclusively on the implication that the Conservatives will remove rights to same-sex marriage and abortion. The latter concept is bunk, since at this time its status in law is purely in legislation passed by Parliament, not the Constitution or the Charter of Rights. Laws can be repealed, and there is no necessary connection between abortion rights and Charter rights. Frankly, I don't believe that holding the right to killing the unborn should be on the same level as the right to freedom of expression. Second, a parliamentary debate on abortion is hardly within the confine of what I would consider to be "great." Perhaps it's because I don't really devote that much of my time to social/moral issues of this nature, and would rather talk about things like Canada's place in the world or how to best make this country great. I don't see how a debate on abortion contributes to either of those things. I'm glad that Harper has said that abortion is not on the agenda, and I truly hope that he sticks to that pledge after he is elected on Monday.

Update: apparently today (Sunday) is the "anniversary" of the Roe v. Wade decision, and just to give you an idea of how important an issue it is in the U.S., the NY Times has no less than 4 articles and op-eds about it, and that's just what I got in my morning news email.

21 January 2006

Get Out and Vote...Conservative

Yeah I just said it. It really hit upon me today while I was out canvassing for Andrew House, the local Tory candidate, that the Stephen Harper-led party really is the best thing for Canada at this time. I've been very confident that I will be voting Conservative in this election since the writ dropped, given that I simply cannot support Paul Martin's "leadership" and I would probably sooner bite my foot off than vote NDP. What was at first moreso a vote against Martin than for Harper, over the course of 7 weeks, has steadily reversed that view. I am happy to be voting for Harper, and I truly believe that he will do a good job of "standing up for Canada" beginning on Tuesday.
Today it felt really good being out there supporting Andrew, whom I've had the pleasure to talk with a number of times during the course of the campaign and have found to be an engaging, interesting, intelligent, and thoughtful young man who will do very well in Ottawa if he should be elected by the good people of Halifax. He faces a tough battle against a popular incumbent NDP MP who is known by her first name, and I wish Alexa a strong second-place finish on Monday night.
It's been an interesting seven weeks, almost sad at times to watch Paul Martin's spectacular crash and burn. It was he and his potential that first enticed me to join the Liberal Party in October 2002, but it was he and his failures to live up to that potential that enticed me to leave the party behind until he is removed from its leadership. After doing an about-face on everything that he once stood for, he has ran a disastrous campaign, replete with anti-Americanism and fear and smear, and devoid of any true vision for a future prosperous Canada. The Liberal website today features no positive messages about the party's platform, merely desperation attempts to tear down Harper's lead and image. This is not the same party that I was a part of for years, and that is a damn shame.

19 January 2006


Folks, I've finally made my national breakthrough into the mainstream media. Long have I desired to see my name on the Letters page of the G&M or the Post, and today I have achieved that goal, courtesy of the latter. I share editorial commentary space with Charles Krauthammer AND Warren Kinsella; it's a great day!

National Post Published: Thursday, January 19, 2006

Re: Polygamy Is Not The Problem, Barbara Kay, Jan. 18.
While I agree with Ms. Kay's hope that a future Conservative government will throw away the recent government report recommending the decriminalization of polygamy, her notion that polyamorous "relationships" are somehow "female-empowering" is ludicrous.
Our sexualized pop culture portrays lesbian chic and bisexuality as "hot." Look at the plethora of music videos and movies that feature two women making out. This image is created for sexual pleasure for men. Young, impressionable women receive the message that in order to please a man, they must engage in the same activity. That is not empowering.
The rise of these polyamorous "relationships" is an outgrowth of pop culture and is not the result of changes to any principles of a mutual and exclusive relationship between two people. I support same-sex marriage because I believe that two people who are willing to make a commitment to love each other deserve equal Charter rights under the law.
As for polyamorous marriages, to claim to love someone while engaging in sexual activities with another is not "empowering," it is cheating: emotionally, physically and psychologically.
Richard McAdam, Halifax.

18 January 2006

Martin Puts the Final Nail in His Political Coffin

“I have large differences with Stephen Harper but I have never doubted his patriotism,” Martin said at a news conference in London. (Toronto Star, Jan. 18, 2005)

Really? Then how do you explain the smear attempt early in the campaign where your party alledged that Harper didn't "love" Canada?

ISSUE:Today Stephen Harper was asked by a reporter: "Do you love this country? "

Instead of saying yes, Harper gave the following response: "Well, I said Canada is a great country. You know, all of us who get involved in public life spend a lot of time away from our families to go across the country, probably get in many ways the mostrewarding experience you could have, you know. It's not tourist travel, you don't see all the hot spots and all the great sights but you get a real sense -- the kind old and the of traveling I've done, especially the last seven or eight months, you get a real sense of Canadians, where they live, who they are and what their challenges are. And I think the country has unlimited potential.
That's why I think it would be so exciting to take over at this point in our history. But I think it's necessary to make a change if we're going to realize that potential."

KEY MESSAGES:The simple answer is 'Yes', especially from someone who wants to lead this great country. Saying that Canada only has great "potential" are not the words of a passionate, committed leader with a vision to shape the Canada's future. (Calgary Grit, Nov. 29, 2005)

Party press releases not good enough for you? How about this comment from the Prime Minister himself: "This morning I'm told Stephen Harper had a little difficulty saying this, so I'll say it. I love Canada," he said to the cheers of Liberal supporters. (Politics Watch, Nov. 29, 2005)

It is unbelievable that Martin can so blatantly contradict himself and expect to retain any semblance of credibility. His statement at the beginning of the election campaign quite clearly indicates that he has in the past attempted to cast doubt on the patriotism of Stephen Harper. That the self-styled "Captain Canada" would stand beside a man who urged Quebecers to vote for the separatists in an "anything to stop Harper" plea of desperation reeks of the ugliest form of political hypocrisy.
I read with great consternation Barbara Kay's National Post article (unfortunately in the paid section of the website, so I can't provide a link. Go buy the paper) on polygamy and polyamorous "relationships." While I agree with her sentiment and express my support for a future Conservative government throwing away the recent government report recommending the decriminalization of polygamy, her notion that polyamorous "relationships" are somehow "female-empowering" is ludicrous.
Our sexualized pop-culture has created the image of lesbian chic and bisexualityto be "hot." Look at the plethora of music videos and movies targeted towards the 18-to-25 male demographic which feature two women making out or making other sexual gestures, usually in the company of an all-too-happy-to-watch man. This image is created for sexual pleasure for men. Young, impressionable women receive the message that in order to please a man, they must engage in the same activity. It is not empowering for women to be treated as sexual objects for men to watch and then discard in a soft-core pornographic fantasy.
The rise of these polyamorous "relationships" is an outgrowth of pop culture. The trivialization of sex and sexuality has resulted in far too many (mainly) young women participating in their own exploitation. It is not symbolic of love, commitment, or any principles of a mutually exclusive relationship between two people. I support same-sex marriage because I believe that two people who are willing to make a commitment to love each other to the exclusion of all others, regardless of sexual orientation, deserve to receive equal Charter rights under the law. However, to even use the word "amorous" in"swingers"-type "relationships" is an affront to the word love, which is based, inter alia, on trust, respect, and commitment. To claim to love someone while engaging in sexual activities with another is not "empowering," it is cheating: emotionally, physically, and psychologically.
From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Pile . . .

"It appears Jack Layton can live with the Conservatives and a Conservative government, can you?" - Paul Martin

Yes. I'm more than willing to believe that 33 million Canadians can as well. There will, in all likelihood, not be a mass hari-kari ritual performed on January 24th. The sun will still rise, business will still be conducted, IR classes will continue unabated, and it won't be 1900 all over again.

The desperation of this man has reached its absolute peak.

17 January 2006


I realize that I've swung away from Martin over the course of the past year, but to have him tied with Gilles Duceppe as someone I would be likely to vote for? Hmmm, well maybe. Just in case you're wondering how I arrived at this conclusion, PoliticsWatch's vote selector:

1. Stephen Harper Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada (100%)
2. Jack Layton Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada (47%)
3. Gilles Duceppe Leader of the Bloc Quebecois (23%)
4. Paul Martin Leader of Liberal Party of Canada, Prime Minister of Canada (23%)

16 January 2006

I Love "Politics"

Just finished watching the morning edition of Politics with Don Newman, and the portion of the show with the strategists' panel never ceases to provide amusement and insights into the real feeling of the parties. My buddy Riley was the one who busted Susan Murray for her "Bullshit" statement recently, and today her face really summed it up for the Liberals. She was rude, interrupting both Sandra Buckler and Brad Lavigne, the Conservative and NDP pundits, not even allowing the latter to make a statement after both she and the Conservative had their time, and the sign-off was perfect. As Newman was closing up the show, you saw the Conservative broadly smiling, the NDP with a mild grin, and poor Susan Murray had an evil scowl on her face. She's mad as hell that she's going to be out of a job next week, I guess. Once CBC has the show up in the archives, I'll strive to get a screencap for all to laugh at and enjoy.

3pm Update . . . for your viewing pleasure, head over to the Politics page, scroll to about 27:45 on the player, you'll see what I'm talking about. I'd do a screen-cap myself, but for some odd reason my computer refuses to play nice today.

15 January 2006

If I may piggy-back onto my good colleague's post of just yesterday, you know it's not going well when you are reduced to attacking your opponent because he didn't speak in French during a campaign speech.

14 January 2006

What I Hope For

As a former Liberal, I'm hoping that whatever the result of this election turn out to be, the Martin cabal is purged from the party. I joined the party because of Martin-the-campaigner in 2002; the first two years went well, but in early 2005 things went to shit as I got more exposed to the way he and the people around him actually think about: average Canadians, previous three-term-majority Prime Ministers, and how to deal with international affairs. I left the party because of Martin-the-PM in 2005.
He has damaged the party for myself and beyond a shadow of a doubt many other Canadians, not quite as badly as end-of-Mulroney/Campbell damaged the PC brand, but very badly. My home riding in the interior of BC hasn't elected a Liberal since 1968; the current, four-term Conservative MP announced his retirement last spring, opening the door for possibly the best chance for the Liberals in Kelowna in a generation. As it is, they don't have a hope in hell, as it was a couple of weeks into the campaign before the Liberal website even posted who their candidate would be, and it's the same person who got beaten, winning only 24% of the vote, in 2004.
The Kelowna story is a snapshot of how Martin has destroyed Liberal chances for electoral success in new regions across the country. Whether it's a Conservative minority or majority, it is time for Martin to go. If the British Conservatives can remove Margaret Thatcher, MARGARET THATCHER, from office in two weeks once they perceived she'd outlived her usefulness, it should take the Liberals two days to remove this rabble from the leadership of the party.

12 January 2006

The Tale of One Man's Defection

From Jim Travers in today's Toronto Star:

"Credibility comes with consistency and in this election as well as in office Martin has been the antithesis of both. A prime minister who came to power promising mature relations with Washington recklessly attacked the U.S. president for campaign advantage and is wrapping himself in the federalist flag after weakening the central government with one-off, backroom deals with premiers.
Those are examples, not aberrations. To conclude otherwise is to forget that Martin put aside his commitment to do politics differently long enough to appoint the discredited Art Eggleton to the Senate, further concentrate power in an unelected elite and let focus groups guide his pragmatic, zigzag course."

Travers has succinctly summarized why I no longer support Paul Martin. After first hearing him speak in person in October 2002 in Kelowna, I joined the Liberal Party and went on to enjoy much of the following three years as a member: I attended the Liberal leadership convention and saw the torch passed from Jean Chretien to Martin, I participated in the 2004 election campaign, I helped welcome Martin to Kelowna and Penticton within the span of four months in late 2004, and I signed on to the be Policy Chair for my local Liberal riding association at the beginning of 2005.
I understood that the sponsorship scandal angered Canadians to a great extent and had few qualms about the Liberals' reduced standing after the election. Yet I supported the way that the PM handled the situation initially, and all through 2004 everything seemed to be all right. But it was in the early months of 2005 that my view on the leader began changing, as he vacillated on the BMD decision for months, sending out mixed messages before deciding at a Liberal Party Policy Convention that Canada would abstain from participation. I made this statement days after the decision on this very blog; I believed it then and I stand by it today:

The Prime Minister reiterated on Wednesday during Question Period in the Commons after the budget delivery that Canada had still not arrived at a decision [on BMD]. The decision came on Thursday. Does he really feel as though Canadians will believe that the decision was made literally overnight? This was a contemptible act, in my opinion, and it denied to the House its legitimate right to have a thorough and serious debate. Martin promised months ago that Parliament would be allowed to debate the issue, and now that will not even be happening . . .This whole file has been handled awfully and I am truly disappointed in my prime minister, his decision, and the process by which he made what I consider to be a snap decision based on public reaction. He's flip-flopped on missile defence, and we all know how I feel about a man that can't make a principled stand. As a member of the Liberal organization, I feel embarrassed and appalled by Martin's handling of the missile defence question.

From that point forward I found myself increasingly at odds with the head of the party. I can remember feeling very insulted when after meeting with a couple folks from the PMO last summer, who wouldn't even mention the previous prime minister's name when talking about the past decade of Liberal leadership. To not even acknowledge Jean Chretien, for all his later-year faults, is indicative of the pattern that the people around Martin tend to behave. Look at the contempt they show for people. Whether it's Scott Reid's "beer and popcorn" statement, John Duffy's attempted intimidation of a journalist who has been on the air for many years, or the military ad, they truly believe that they can get away with anything and the people will still flock to the Liberal Party come election time because they can intimidate people into thinking that Harper will remodel the country overnight after being elected into something that resembles the third level of hell. Which, apparently, is the United States, in their eyes; how else can one explain the rampant, sometimes subtle but usually not-so-much, shots taken by Martin and his cohorts about our neighbour?
The past couple of weeks have demonstrated to me that my decision to revoke my support of this party until the current cabal is removed and purged was the right one. I would suspect that many other Canadians are arriving at that same decision. The support of the Conservatives at the Liberals' expense is quite indicative of that. I may one day return to the Liberal fold, I may not, but I certainly can not in good conscience do so with the current regime, who stumble from arrogance to desperation, thuggery to cowardice, from fear and smear to cowering in front of Mike Duffy.
The lack of coherence and direction in this campaign has been stunning to watch. When you attempt to make everything a top priority, the result is that nothing is a top priority. When you attack your opponent without providing positive, credible reasons for why people should support you, you are the one who is negative. When you claim to stand tall in defending the Charter of Rights, and make an awkwardly-delivered policy announcement in the middle of a debate that is not a part of your hastily-written policy book, you make a mockery of the Charter. When you state that you want a mature relationship with the United States, and deride every position your opponent takes as being right-wing American, not Canadian, values, you enhance the immaturity of your own approach to Canada's most important partnership.
It is time for Canadians to stand up for a leader who will respect Canada and Canadians, who will hopefully make a stand against the corruption that has been endemic in Ottawa during this regime, who will not use the Charter of Rights and the Canadian Forces as tools to menace Canadians to hold on to his stewardship, and who will work constructively with the United States to rebuild the strong foundation of the greatest bilateral relationship in the world.

11 January 2006

Conservatives Creeping into Majority Territory

I know, I know, it's just one poll, but given the voter trends and the wheels falling off the Martin campaign, this must be mentioned:

CPAC-SES Jan 8-10:
CP 39
Lib 30
NDP 16
BQ 12
GP 4

Barring a miracle that sees a CBC camera catching Harper in a room maniacally laughing and rubbing his hands together in true evil fashion, the Tories are very likely going to win this election. The only question left is really whether it's a minority or a majority. If the numbers continue on this course, with the Tories steadily rising and the Liberals steadily falling, it will end up being the latter.

10 January 2006

Liberals Unleash Negative Campaign

It took less than 12 hours after Martin's mediocre performance in last night's debate for the Liberal spin-machine to go into full-on negative mode. There are no less than 10 attack ads, many of which rely upon ages-old quotes from Harper, the usual blend of fear and smear, and a "liberal" approach to the truth. I've said many times that I've got nothing at all against "going neg," but for the Big Red Machine to do so immediately following a debate in which Harper kept his cool and looked Prime Ministerial while Martin was often agitated and making incomprehensible pledges to re-open constitutional discussions to revoke the federal government's ability to use the notwithstanding clause (something that it has actually utilized a whopping ZERO times) reeks of desperation. The s.33 "brainstorm" runs counter to anything that every Liberal prime minister, from Trudeau to Chretien, to strengthen the authority of the federal government over the provinces in its policy of central federalism. It will also simply not work, for if you open the constitutional can of worms, you will see demands from Alberta, British Columbia, the Atlantic and Maritime provinces, and maybe, just maybe, Quebec, to settle their own issues and grievances with the Constitution and the Charter of Rights.
As for the ads themselves . . . yawn. The Mike Harris reference means nothing to anybody who doesn't follow Ontario's provincial politics, including yours truly. The Liberals' record on child-care is an abomination. The Conservatives' full tax plan hasn't yet been released, so it's inappropriate to state that Harper is already running deficits (unlike Martin, who is himself a living democratic deficit). The Washington Times bit runs counter to everything Martin has said about a "more sophisticated" relationship with the United States; hardly surprising, since he's been doing that for many months now.
Let the winds of change keep blowing . . .

I guess this is what happens when I read about the first batch of ads, post a response, go do my school readings, and then not do the regular sweeps of the blogroll until after the debate is over. If you haven't heard the news by now, and to do that and be here is quite amazing, the Liberals have committed the most egregious sin in advertising since the Campbell Conservatives' "face" ad against Jean Chretien. They actually ran an ad based loosely on Cherniak's implication that Stephen

09 January 2006

Reality Check

Paul Martin tonight invoked the name of his father and Tommy Douglas, saying that it is unfathomable for Canadians to imagine building a health care system on a dollar a day. This is in reference to his number-crunching on the Tories' child-care plan. Funny thing about that, I'll turn it over to Mr. Douglas himself:
"Mr. Speaker, $50 per capita gives every man, woman and child . . . security from the cradle to the grave. It takes care of their doctor bills, dental bills, hospital bills, optometric care and appliances. The only thing for which there is a deterrent fee is drugs, and that is very small. It gives them unemployment insurance, baby bonuses, and pensions when they are physically disabled. It provides benefits in the event of death, and it provides adequate pensions for widows and their children. I say that if any government, of any country, can give its people that kind of security for less than $50 per capita, then it is worth the price, and many times over." Tommy Douglas, "Medicare: The Time to Take a Stand (1961), in Katherine Fierlbeck, ed., The Development of Political Thought in Canada, (Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2005), 120.

So it would seem that Mr. Douglas openly talked about not only a medicare system, but also EI, child care, pensions, and death benefits, for $50 a year. Now if I do my math, that works out to 13 cents per day. Just imagine what Douglas could have done with a full dollar per day!!!

Additionally, Martin said that Harper would have had Canadians in Iraq. This is something I've dealt with so many times now that it's not even funny anymore. If Martin were PM instead of Chretien, he would have done the exact same thing. Sheila Copps has said as much, Kinsella has posted a number of quotes saying as much, and Martin himself said that he couldn't fathom disarming Saddam without removing him from power, so draw your own conclusions there. Like I said before, it's all counterfactual because Harper wasn't the PM at the time!

Martin also promised to undergo a constitutional amendment to remove the federal government's ability to utilize the notwithstanding clause. Really? You want to open up that can of worms? Do you not remember how difficult it is to amend the Canadian Constitution? This is desperation in its absolute rawest form, because he is hoping to capitalize on the demonization of Section 33 of the Constitution when there is virtually no hope whatsoever that it could be done.

Paul Martin: "I don't believe that Canada was built on American conservative values." Hmm, given the number of conservative Americans who rejected the Revolution against the British and moved to Canada, not to mention the volume of British conservatives involved in the foundation of Canada, that's a highly debatable statement. To be sure, as Gad Horowitz has stated, "Canadian Conservatives have something British about them that American Republicans do not," but there is a strong tory foundation to Canada's origins that Martin conveniently overlooked this evening. I will again turn to Horowitz, who quoted Nelson in saying, "'the Tories' organic conservatism represented a current of thought that failed to reappear in America after the revolution. A substantial part of the whole spectrum of European . . . philosophy seemed to slip outside the American perspective.' But it reappeared in Canada." I'm terribly sorry, Mr. Martin, but what you choose to believe for the convenience of electoral labels in the middle of a losing campaign is out of whack with what many Canadian political theorists legitimately believe and more forcefully articulate than you can present to sway opinion.

08 January 2006

Twice already?

Hard to believe that after only 8 days of 2006, I've been on TV twice. Clearly my Liberal past is starting to have effects and consequences that have repercussions on the current election campaign. How could I have ever come to expect this one, in the latest Liberal attack ad, entitled "One Leader"? I must say that the ad itself is tired and repetitive from the last campaign, but at least the gun isn't pointing directly at Canadians this time around. All the same, it's sad that the Liberals don't have anything on Harper from the current campaign, and instead have to rely upon scare tactics that use a counterfactual argument based on something that happened three years ago! There comes a certain time when a statute of limitations has to come into play, otherwise I'd advise Harper to start using ads that attack John Turner's record. Also, given that we all know Martin personally supported the war in Iraq and ballistic missile defence before he opposed them, this may not be the best of ideas for him to drag this idea out again.
Value Clash

This morning I watched PMPM outline what he perceives to be the "fundamental value differences" between himself and Stephen Harper. He rattled off the tired and worn-out counterfactual statement that Harper would have had Canadians in Iraq; this is something which Harper has addressed in this campaign, saying that while he supports the mission, he would not have committed troops. As I said, it's all counterfactual and therefore irrelevant. It should also bear mention that had Paul Martin been the PM at the time, he also would have had Canadians in Iraq. But there's a fundamental value difference there.
Paul Martin also says that Stephen Harper would have Canada revoke its support for Kyoto. Harper apparently believes that the environment is not important to Canadians, and that spending billions of dollars to counter the problem of climate change isn't important. Let's look at Canada's record on Kyoto, shall we? But first, bear this in mind:
Article 3.1 The Parties included in Annex I shall, individually or jointly, ensure that their aggregate anthropogenic carbon dioxide equivalent emissions of the greenhouse gases listed in Annex A do not exceed their assigned amounts, calculated pursuant to their quantified emission limitation and reduction commitments inscribed in Annex B and in accordance with the provisions of this Article, with a view to reducing their overall emissions of such gases by at least 5 per cent below 1990 levels in the commitment period 2008 to 2012.
Since signing Kyoto, Canada's emissions have risen 24% above their 1990 levels. It would thus appear that Canada is either flouting Kyoto's terms, the government isn't doing enough to ensure that Canada lives up to Kyoto's terms, or that the terms spelled out by Kyoto are simply unreachable for Canada. One way or another, this government is responsible for Canada's systemic failure to live up to its international obligations. The choice we have is clear: continue throwing billions of dollars at a problem that cannot be resolved in a futile effort to demonstrate our much-vaunted leadership that will set the standard by which all other countries are judged, or withdraw from the Protocol and develop an alternative, made-in-Canada approach that will provide real results for Canadians.
Martin also discussed how Harper would revoke the tax cuts that were recently implemented, how Harper would make billions of dollars in promises and then expect Canadians to write a cheque to the government to cover the cost. That's a fundamental difference. Given the state of our health care system, an area in which Martin has de facto acknowledged that the health care "fix for a generation" that pumped $41B into the system is insufficient and has thus introduced even more money, perhaps cancelling a cynical tax cut aimed at buying votes is not that bad an idea. Also, see the above statement on Kyoto. We've obviously not pumped enough money into the environment file, seeing as Martin just announced yesterday that he would spend $1B to clean up the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence. Very important ideas, to be sure, but he is doing the exact same thing that he is accusing Harper of doing (slinging money around). This is actually a winning item for Martin, as the mere mention of raising taxes is enough to undo a campaign (viz. "read my lips, no new taxes" from George H. W. Bush in 1992) and hurt the Tories to a considerable degree. There's an argument to be made here that if it weren't for all the Liberal program-slashing in the mid-to-late 1990s to get the fiscal house in order, there wouldn't be the massive surpluses that Canada currently enjoys. The tax issue isn't something that I personally spend considerable time dealing with, so if there's any economists out there, by all means draw up a chart detailing the GST cut, other Harper tax cuts, against the Liberal plans and tell me which saves the most.
So yes, Martin is trying to paint a portrait of value differences. However, given that on the issues he discussed, he either actually agrees with Harper (Iraq and also BMD) or has done things that run counter to what he's preached (Kyoto and the environment), Canadians who actually delve into the record and pay close attention will realize that the "fundamental differences in values" that Martin tries to portray are much blurrier than he would like to admit.

06 January 2006

A Bit More About the "Captain Canada" Thing

I'm a bit surprised that Harper hasn't taken the attack on Martin's self-prescribed "Captain Canada" one step further. The bit about flying CSL ships under foreign flags and avoiding paying Canadian taxes is good, but why not add on something about how the man who proclaimed to "fix health care for a generation" is blatantly hypocritical via the use of a private clinic doctor, in a company that is connected to the income-trust scandal? Just a thought.

05 January 2006

Martin Unveils Post-Secondary Education Plan

Having just watched the announcement live, my first impression is that this is laughable. The so-called "50-50" program, which will cover half of a student's tuition cost in his/her first year and half the cost in the last year, is actually a 25% program and will do little to assist many low-income students who are already feeling the pinch of rising tuition costs. Giving the kids $6000 over four/five years is simply not going to placate many people I know many people who are upset that tuition costs have more than doubled at UBC-O in the past five years, and I can bet that this assistance, while appreciated, will still not be sufficient. What are they supposed to do for the second, third, and sometimes fourth year of their program? Rack up more horrific student debt?
Also, the program does not take effect until the 2007-08 year. This does nothing for students who are beginning their programs next year (2006-07) and they will not benefit from this program for at least two years. In the same line of thought, given that this is yet another backloaded Liberal promise, based on the duration of the last minority Parliament, it is unlikely that the government elected in this term will even be in office for the start of that academic year (and the way this election is going, it won't be a Liberal minority anyways). The problem with this timetable is that the months prior to the fall of the government will be full of the same rancor as we saw last semester, and thus election promises will not make it through the legislative process in time before Parliament is dissolved.
My early prognostication is that this announcement will amount to very little, if not nothing at all.

On another Liberal policy front, why are they running against the record of having "fixed health care for a generation" by promising to throw almost another billion dollars at the problem of reducing wait times? I thought it was fixed!

01 January 2006

Happy New Year!

Welcome to a new year in Richard McAdam: Words of a Grad Student! I'm looking forward to a very interesting 2006, with lots of insights, discussions, and debates. We've certainly got a fast and furious three weeks ahead of us as the race for 24 Sussex Drive heats up and the polls between the Liberals and the Conservatives get ever tighter. I've made my official prediction of a Conservative minority, and I've got a track record of being good at calling these sorts of things.

It only took me 11 hours to get on TV in 2006! This morning on CBC Newsworld they were running a program called Minority Report: The 2004 Election. During a segment on Stephen Harper's trip to Kelowna in the final weekend of the campaign, I appear for but a brief moment with a placard I had brought to the Liberal presence that day, which read: Liberal First Rate Canada. The comment was in response to something that Harper had said in his time as the head of the National Citizens' Coalition, where he stated that "Canada seems content to be a second-rate socialistic country." Given that these were the days of my Liberal partisanship (though certainly nothing to the extent that Cherniak takes the Martin Kool-Aid...the guy predicted a Liberal majority the other day!), such a comment, in the heat of a very close race that the Liberals had a real danger of losing and in a time when the extent of their corruption and scandal was not yet realized, had to be responded to in force. So that's what I did that day in Kelowna. It was afterwards that I talked to Stockwell Day, who concluded our conversation with, "You seem like an intelligent young man, maybe one day you'll be on our side." If only he knew eh?