30 April 2006

Forget It

I don't care if Michael Ignatieff wins, I don't care if Harper's brain explodes and he moves to the left of Jack Layton, I don't care if a 6-time Stanley Cup champ with the Habs becomes the leader, I don't care if the Young Liberals do a complete about-face on their repugnant positions on prostitution and marijuana, I don't care. I will not associate myself with a party whose leader tries to make a moral equivalent of the softwood deal with the Munich agreement. To suggest that is disgusting and it trivializes the legitimation of Hitler's land grab of the Czech Sudetenland as a cheap price to pay for securing an extra year of "peace" in Europe. Half a billion dollars is not the same thing as betraying 3 million people and a failing to honour a security agreement (both France and the Soviets had made pledges and signed treaties to promise to come to the Czechs' defence in the event of a German attack) leaving Czechoslovakia a defenceless rump state in the face of Hitler's ambitions. It is not, NOT, NOT the same and to try to establish the two things as being on a moral par is revolting beyond words.

Forget it, I'm done with them. I had such respect for Bill Graham once upon a time, but since he's become the interim leader of the Liberals he's been horrific and ineffective in trying to demonstrate a mature and coherent opposition. Finished. Over and out.

28 April 2006

Conservative strategist Tim Powers just missed a golden opportunity to really nail a zinger on the Liberals. He was on Duffy's show, when his Liberal counterpart referred to her party as the party of "sober second thought" to the Conservatives. Tim chuckled and all, but c'mon, would it have been that hard for the synapses to come up with a retort like this:

"Sober second thought? You were a party drunk with power, and now you're clearly in the midst of a hangover."

Tories are already getting soft on the Liberals, it's a shame because they've had such a fun week slapping them around.

27 April 2006

Let's Make a (Softwood) Deal!

Update 27 April 2006 - Stephen Harper makes it official, and it's better than the framework announced yesterday. $4B to be returned, and no quotas or tariffs at current prices. Full details available at the Prime Minister of Canada's website.

By the looks of the television news, when they're not showing ghoulish photos of private military funerals and thumbing their noses at Harper for doing so, it seems as though we may have a framework in place for a deal with the United States to end our long-standing feud over softwood lumber. The deal, as it stands, will compel the Americans to return 78% of the $5 billion collected in countervailing duties over the past few years (approximately $3.9 billion, better than Martin's suggestion of $3.5B or demand for all of it, depending on the day of the week, both of which netted nothing), while putting a cap on Canadian lumber to 1/3 (34%) of the total American market. It's an arrangement that thus features compromise by all parties, as any good negotiation will provide. Most Canadians should be happy that we've got a tentative deal in place; but some Liberals are screaming that Stephen Harper has sold out Canada, and the Liberal McGuinty government in Ontario is making caustic tones that it may scuttle the deal. They're furious that Canada doesn't get 100% of its money back and that there's a limitation to how much we can export to their market. "We've got NAFTA rulings!" Yes, but they've got WTO rulings. There was a stalemate because for too long both sides clung adamantly to the rulings that went in their favour and in demanding an absolute position for everything, got nothing. Thus, compromise.
Welcome to an asymmetrical relationship. These types of international relations are covered in just about any introductory course to Political Science. It doesn't take a super-genius to realize that the Americans are much more powerful than Canada and that sometimes we're going to have to bite our tongues to curry good favour. A discussion of values vs. interests is also basic political science: should Canada pursue a liberal or a realist foreign policy? A realist approach would by no means suggest that Canada would have had to sign on the Land Mine Treaty, join BMD, or join the coalition in Iraq (indeed, many foreign policy realists argued that America shouldn't have been in Iraq because it has no vital interests there--really puts the whole "war for oil" bullshit to the test). Being in an asymmetrical relationship doesn't mean we have to always agree or always disagree, but if we are going to disagree we'd better damn sure not be disagreeable about it. Notice that there was no significant deterioration of Canada-US relations when Mulroney said he didn't want to be a part of SDI? Here's why: he was straight-forward and forthright in his rejection of the American concept. He didn't attempt to lambaste the Americans for doing something they felt was in their interests, he simply said that it wasn't in the Canadian interest and let it be. Contrast that with Canada's "party of Heaven" attitude towards BMD and Iraq, where the government took it upon itself to act as a moral champion to lecture the Americans on the Security Council's virtues and spouted empty rhetoric about starting an arms race and neglecting the ABM Treaty (a fact that somehow Canadians managed to miss the news that the Americans walked away from this bilateral agreement with the Soviet Union in late 2001, with little opposition from the Russians). This came only after the government changed its mind about 3 or 4 times as to what its course of action would be.
This deal is by no means a sellout, and it's laughable that Cherniak and others would suggest as much. Obviously there's a lack of understanding of how diplomacy and negotiation works. For years Canada's position has been an absolute end to the countervailing duties and full repayment of the $5B collected already. Every time we hold to this absolute position, the Americans have walked away. It is senseless to continually present them with the same demands unless we want them to continually walk away and leave no deal at all in place, thus permitting the countervailing duties to continue. It doesn't matter how many NAFTA rulings come down in our favour, it doesn't matter how many WTO rulings come down in the Americans' favour. In order to achieve a deal, both sides have to make concessions to one another. Again, the nature of an asymmetrical relationship comes into play: because the Americans have greater power and greater resources to obtain softwood lumber elsewhere (even if it's not as high a quality as the Canadian lumber), that puts Canada in a position where we're negotiating from a point of relative weakness. There's about four billion reaons that getting 78% of the $5B back is better than getting 0% of it back, which we were going to receive had we demanded 100% of it back. Getting a 1/3 share (sorry, 34%) of the total American market is no small feat, given that there's still quite a few trees left in that Kyoto-hatin' cowboy nation (that's my lame attempt at anti-Americanism). Is it as much as we were getting before all the duties were slapped on our exports? I don't honestly know, and if someone wants to provide me with the figures, that'd be much appreciated.
But before people go on babbling and spewing rhetoric about how Harper sold Canada's softwood lumber industry down the river just to get a deal with the Americans and prove his negotiation bona fides, just remember that having what might be a bad deal (and there's not much evidence to suggest that it actually is a bad deal. Time will tell) is far better than what Martin was able to get: no deal. The countervailing duties will be ended, we'll be getting money back, and we'll have significant unfettered access to the largest economic market in the world.

26 April 2006

The Media's Sham War against Harper

For those of you who don't read Stephen Taylor's blog, I would encourage you to do so, as he has an excellent post up on the recent MSM criticisms of the Harper government for making the decisions to not lower flags to half-mast every time Canadian soldiers are killed and to issue a media ban on the repatriation ceremony of the four fallen soldiers. I'm in agreement with what Harper has done, for reasons I will explain below.
In the comments section of Taylor's post, a member of the Canadian Forces has spoken out strongly against the tactics used by the media and opposition parties. I'm in full agreement with everything that EdtheHun has stated. In addition to doing Canadians and the entire world a genuinely fantastic service by assisting in the reconstruction and democratization of Afghanistan, he has taken the time to illustrate the more personal, human, side of what it means to be a soldier fighting for a cause that is greater than any one person. It is commendable in the highest order, and I share his sentiments wholeheartedly.
I find it absolutely shameful the manner in which the media and opposition parties are behaving in this manner. It started with Jane Taber on Question Period on Sunday scolding the Conservatives, saying, "It doesn't take that much effort to lower a flag," and it has mushroomed from there. It is not a case of failed "effort" or disrespect or any of the other absurd and inappropriate charges being lobbed at the Prime Minister for his decision. Is it a tragedy that we have lost four young men in the midst of combat? Absolutely. But to suggest that Canadians aren't really getting the full impact of their deaths because we don't get to the see the repatriation ceremony, after the actual fact has been replayed endlessly for days by every media outlet in the country, is nothing short of blatant stupidity and an insult to every Canadian and every Canadian soldier. We know what has happened, we feel it in our hearts; having the flags at half-mast and seeing flag-draped coffins, in my opinion, only contributes to the depressing feeling and damages the overall national will to fight.
This conflict in Afghanistan is going to flare up, the experts have been predicting a spring offensive by the Taliban insurgency for months. Now it's happening, and we're only seeing the opening salvos. I, and I'm sure most Canadians, don't want to have to walk past half-drawn flags every day and be bombarded with images of grieving families at what really should be a private ceremony on a regular basis. These things have an effect on our psyches, and support for this conflict is soft enough as it is. Having so many visceral images, piled on top of the sad reality that Canadians are losing their lives in this right and just cause, will only contribute to Canada's own version of the Vietnam Syndrome, and could result in many opposition groups demanding a preciptious withdrawal from Afghanistan before the end of our mandate and before the mission has been completed.
I'm personally embarrassed to see Canadian politicians using soldiers' lives and deaths as instruments to score political points against the Prime Minister. I take issue with what was said above; not all of the Prime Minister's actions are political. Being the head of government, most actions are an act of statecraft. They should be, anyways, but we've gotten far too comfortable with Liberal leaders who turn every single issue into a matter of political gamesmanship. Harper is setting out a government policy, not Conservative policy; there is a wide distinction between the two, and the media and opposition parties are doing Canadians and the Canadian Forces a real disservice by trying to link Harper's actions to the always-unpopular-in-Canada Bush Administration. There's simply nothing there, and Ujjal Dosanjh's comments that Harper is well on his way to emulating Bush is inappropriate and is merely another reason I will not re-join the Liberal Party any time soon. I'll agree with my Dal colleague, Riley, that Dosanjh is rapidly becoming the worst of Canada's politicians, and his cheap anti-American tactic should be an embarrassment to the entire Liberal caucus.

24 April 2006

Some thoughts from the past few days, as Blogger has not been letting me publish posts for some reason:

Question Period has been getting awful lately; watching Ujjal Dosanjh try to sound tough on Afghanistan is almost laughable and I'm really wondering how a former NDP premier managed to land the slot of defence critic. Isn't it an oxymoron?

Jane Taber is almost farcical. Did anyone catch her little quip at the end of an interview when she said, "It doesn't take that much effort to lower a flag"? She completely missed the point of what the Conservatives were doing by not proclaiming it a day of national mourning every time Canadian soldiers are killed in combat. Yes, we know that it's a tragedy and no less horrific because it's happening in a situation where we're doing our damndest to help build a democracy in that country, but we have a national day of mourning already: Remembrance Day. Here at Dalhousie the flag always seems to be flying at half-mast, and the majority of the time I don't know why. Most often I hadn't heard about any Canadian soldiers suffering fatalities, no Canadian heads of state were dying, the flag would just be at half-mast. Taber is out of line when she says that the government is being lazy by not lowering the flag. Given the way this conflict is heating up, I don't want to see the Canadian flag semi-permanently at half-staff; it's depressing and it hurts the national morale for a conflict in which support is already too soft as it is.

It's very nice to be done phase one of this graduate program of mine, allowing me to take a few days of rest before plunging into phase two. I was hoping there would be some papers written earlier in the semester waiting to be picked up when I'm done so that I have an idea as to how I'm doing in the course. Alas, I must wait until Friday. I hope that the folks who haven't gotten their stuff done, over two weeks after the deadline now, are able to do so. I've always had a real problem with the idea of a student "not being able" to get a paper done on time, especially when the prof has already bent over backwards to push deadlines back by over a week. It's something of an insult to the majority of students who do get their stuff done before the deadline, in spite of all the other class assignments and distractions. I guess that's why I never had a problem with the heavy-handed approach used by some of my undergrad professors who simply wouldn't accept late papers. But I'm ranting now and could be stepping on some folks' toes. Heaven forbid I don't be supportive, right?

The weather has reverted to being blech again; so much for springtime having sprung. It's more than a shade depressing looking out my window and seeing fog and barely being able to make out the outline of trees that haven't even bloomed yet. It's a far cry from what I'm accustomed to seeing in late April; I'll have to ensure that wherever I may roam from here has a lot more actual spring in its seasons.

What a game last night!! A complete emotional roller coaster, as we were up 3, down 1, up 1, tied, then a double-OT winner. Phew!!! Allow a few less shots though; Huet's been great but you can only pepper a guy with so many shots until he ends up being Roberto Luongo: a great goalie that can make enough saves so that you only lose by one or two goals on a nightly basis and make you look a lot better than you really are. GO HABS GO!

20 April 2006

I can't believe that it's already been seven years since my last day of high school. Am I really getting that old? Unlike most folks in high school who have a linear system, I was on a quarter system and I managed to manipulate all my courses so that I had my provincially examinable classes in the first couple of terms, and had enough credits that I didn't have to stick around until June. That worked well, and so when I walked out of that last exam, I think it was a Math exam, I was quite happy.
When I got home half an hour later, I was a lot less happy as soon as I saw what was on the TV. Columbine. One of those tragedies that becomes indelibly etched into our minds, like the JFK assassination or 9/11. Everybody who was around at the time remembers what happened there and what they were doing when they heard the news.
It's easy for me to link to it, since it coincided with my last day of high school. I was glad to be done with school, but I was really saddened by what happened in Colorado that day. Those kids really hated their school lives, and they let that be known via their unforgivable actions. I hated school, but to get beyond it I finished with it and left. They took a far more damaging path. No amount of teasing or embarrassment justifies what they did, and the 13 people they massacred did not deserve their fate, to be killed in cold blood because somebody's feelings were hurt and those 13 happened to be in the cliched "wrong place at the wrong time." They were in school, that's never a wrong place to be. Columbine. Never forget.

19 April 2006

Richard's Playoff Preview & Predictions

With the regular season now a thing of the past and the Canucks hitting the links, it's time to look ahead and see what the forthcoming weeks will bring us in terms of the NHL's post-season. My Habs are in for a tough fight against Carolina, reprising their old rivalry from the 2002-03 season and the even older battles against the old Hartford Whalers. I wish I knew as much about the West as I usually do, but I'm on the East Coast this year and thus I'm in bed when teams like San Jose are playing their games. Such is life, it's a good thing for SportsCentre eh? All right, here we go:

Eastern Conference
Ottawa v. Tampa Bay
It's never easy to go against the defending Champions, but they've been poor in goal all season long and if there were one more game to be played, it would have been Atlanta instead of them in the 8th spot. Ottawa's limped into the playoffs, having a few struggles at the end of the season, and they'll be missing Hasek for as long as that adductor muscle gives him mobility problems. That said, they were the class of the East for most of the season, and that top line of Heatley, Alfreddson, and Spezza is dynamite. I pick the Senators in 5.

Montreal v. Carolina
This is the one series where my heart will probably arrive at a different conclusion than what my brain fears will happen. The 'Canes owned the Habs this season, beating them convincingly in all four match-ups. One key difference: it was Jose Theodore in goal then, it'll be either David Aebischer or the fan-favourite Cristobal Huet now. The team has really rallied around #39, with the notable exception of their complete collapse late in the third period last night. That type of meltdown is unacceptable at this time of the season, and the 'Canes are a much more gifted team offensively. They'll be looking to exploit weaknesses and rely on Gerber to carry them through. It'll be a helluva series, I hope, and I'm gonna pick the Habs to escape in 7.

New Jersey v. New York Rangers
Up until last night, everybody thought it would be the Rangers with home-ice in this series. That's not the case, as the Devils took their 11th straight victory to carry them to the division crown. They're peaking at just the right time, Marty Brodeur has been sensational as always, and with him in goal the Devils are always a threat. The Rangers have enjoyed a rebirth this season, none moreso than Jaromir Jagr. I don't like the guy, but he's been incredible all season long and has really picked up his game to the level where he should always have been. Probably the toughest series to pick, I'll take the Devils in 6.

Buffalo v. Philadelphia
Buffalo has been red-hot lately, and the Flyers are no slouch either. In the new NHL, speed kills, and the Sabres have plenty of it. The Flyers defence does not, and that could be a major factor. Goaltending will also be key; the Flyers are having their usual problems in net, while Buffalo has two good goaltenders who are hitting hot streaks. After going 80 games without a shutout, the Sabres blanked their last two opponents. It's a good time to get hot, and I think that having the home ice and the additional speed will help Buffalo take this one in 6.

Western Conference
Detroit v. Edmonton
I like the Oilers a lot; they've got a lot of spirit and they busted their butts to make it into the playoffs, only to get the "honour" of playing Detroit. The Wings may have had an easy division to rack up the points, but they still had to win those games, and they did just that. Goaltending is a bit of a question mark for both teams, as neither has A+ level netminders to backstop the team. That's not a knock on the Legace-Osgood combo, or on Roloson, but those factors could result in a high-scoring series. If that's the case, this one will be very exciting to watch. I'm going to have to go with the Wings in 5.

Dallas v. Colorado
Another great match-up here, and with great goaltending to boot. This series features two guys that were at the Team Canada oreintation camp, Marty Turco and my old pal Jose Theodore. Theo's had a rough season and that's carried over somewhat, based on his record, to Colorado. Turco's been solid all year long, so there's no question mark there. If Theo can get it together, he gives the Avs a chance, but if not, it could be lights out fairly quickly. I'm taking Dallas in 6.

Calgary v. Anaheim
The Flames go as far as Kiprusoff can carry them. He got them within a goal of the Cup in 2004 (and I still think that Gelinas scored in OT in Game 6), and I've got no doubt he can do it again. Anaheim has been spurred by the rebirth of Selanne and had some good success against the Flames, keeping them under 3 goals in every match this season in splitting the season series. The thing is, in the two Ducks' losses, they were shut out and scored once, respectively. Don't look for a lot of offense here, but expect a very hard-hitting and punishing series, and I pick the Flames to advance in 5 games.

San Jose v. Nashville
Nashville will be in this series without their #1 goaltender and that will be a major factor against the combination of Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo, who devastated the West all season long and propelling the Sharks from a miserable start to a solid playoff position. They've been one of the hottest teams in the league, and are solid all through the line-up. I don't think that the Predators are in a good state of mind, having lost Vokoun at such a critical juncture and having to rely on the unproven Chris Mason. The Sharks will take this series in 5.

16 April 2006

Star Wars gives a tip to Liberals

"Attachment to power [is] the downfall of all orders, because most beings [are] incapable of controlling power, and power [ends] up controlling them." -- Dark Lord, The Rise of Darth Vader

Does this sound more than a smidge appropriate to what we've seen in the past few months in Canadian politics to anybody out there? Simply put, the old Liberal order fell apart because nearly everything done by the Martin government was a means to retaining power. The Stronach floor crossing was the most prominent and well-known example, but the spending frenzy in the final days of Parliament, the ill-conceived plan to inextricably link Stephen Harper to the use of the notwithstanding clause to overturn same-sex marriage rights, and the catering to interests within the party on major issues instead of paying attention to national interests were also contributing factors in Martin's decline. The attachment to retaining office, having pursued it for so long, dominated the Martin cabal's political judgment, resulting in the greatest disappointment in Canadian political history.
The aftermath of the election has demonstrated that little has changed. As we see the books get opened up on the past government's excesses and hear the tales of David Dingwall actually being entitled to his entitlements, the picture emerges more clearly of a party that was so accustomed to power and all that went with it. For Tim Murphy to charge $777.71 for lunch with 50 of his buddies and expense it, along with all his travel expenses during the election campaign (being a close adviser, he flew on the government's Challenger) is outrageous. Yes that was the past, but the more the new regime pores over the documents of the old one, we will see more and more such tales.
The future of this party may well be one of a return to glory, yet at this stage, it is grossly presumptuous to assume that such a thing will necessarily transpire because of a "natural" right to govern Canada. At a time when a majority of Canadians have expressed their support for the Conservative agenda, Liberals nevertheless believe that a return to power is imminent. They pledge to use their Senate majority--a majority gained via the usual patronage means rather than any accountable method--to block some of the agenda of a democratically-elected and representative body, potentially forcing a crisis of confidence in the government. At a time when four out of five Canadians don't care who is the next leader of their party, they still seek a return to power. It is the height of arrogance and an utter failure to recognize that the old order is gone--by being in power for so long and losing the memory of not being in power, they sowed the seeds for their own undoing, as all orders do--and an attempt to re-capture it prematurely will only enhance the negativity the Liberals receive from many Canadians.
In the heady days of 2003-04 I never believed that I would find myself, less than 3 years later, walking out of a room of Liberals because I was so angered by their platitudes of the future glory of the Liberal Party of Canada. Renewal is a term often bandied about, yet it seems as though far too many of the old guard merely believe that renewal is nothing more than taking out the old policy and attitude book from the library for a few more years. This conception of renewal is wrong. Renewal of the Liberal Party means taking a new approach to the Canadian polity with a new vision and a new outlook on how to connect with the voting public. It cannot simply be re-packaging the old brand, it must be the development of a new, vibrant Liberal Party that is committed to liberalism and the principles enshrined in "peace, order, and good government" and the concepts of "life, liberty, and the security of the person," not to winning the next election. Until the members of the old guard realize this or, failing that, step aside, the drift will continue and permit the likes of Jack Layton to speak as the credible opposition to a conservative vision of Canada.

14 April 2006

Appointment Schedule after April 18, 2006:
Playoff Hockey!!!

Appointment Schedule after April 18, 2006 :

13 April 2006

Study Break....of sorts

Having turned in my final term paper as a graduate student yesterday, I'm now finally in a position to take a bit of a break from actual university work and enjoy reading "for fun." Of course, the book that I'm presently reading, Fukuyama's latest--America at the Crossroads--is more likely than not going to be included my lit review for the thesis, so it's not really a full break. It is definitely nice to no longer have to worry about deadlines or going down to the bomb shelter for my Canadian Politics seminar, and I will certainly enjoy the liberty of being able to read what I want to read, for me, rather than what I have to read, for class participation marks.
This past semester was a bit of a wierd one, and I found myself not enjoying myself to the fullest extent.
In IR I was a fish out of water for a good chunk of the term, as my IPE knowledge is rather limited to what I learned in a second-year class that I took many years ago. The final paper turned out all right (I hope) as I made the best with what I did know and had some fun exploring the idea of intellectual property rights, something which I think is going to become a major political issue in this century and a topic area I may be inclined to study further in the future.
Canadian Politics was often frustrating because the focus of the course was far too heavily determined by what the professor wanted to talk about. I'm not meaning that as a knock on the prof or her study of interest, but a graduate seminar should have much greater student-led direction and be a lot less rigid in its format. We had a federal election in mid-January that received very little discussion in spite of what effects its result will have on federal-provincial relations in the coming months, despite the efforts of myself and several others to shift away from the theoretical aspects of asymmetrical federalism and its related topics. Also, I found that there was far too much focus on Toronto; I don't like the city at the best of times, and the emphasis on it instead of other major cities in the urban regime literature bordered on aggravating. And that bomb shelter was just bad for creating an environment to discuss things; I need at least some natural light to have a hope of being in a good mood!
American foreign policy was, to no surprise, the highlight of this semester for me. I enjoyed expressing myself in that class, probably scaring some folks with the occasional neo-con rant, but it was a good way to spend a couple hours on a late Friday afternoon. The professor was great, he let us have largely free rein to discuss what we wanted to discuss, and I enjoyed learning from the other students and hearing a wide range of opinions. The two policy-paper seminars were the most enjoyable 4 hours of class time I had this semester, because we, the students, ran the show and I'd say we did a fine job of discussing the major issues in American foreign policy and Canada-US relations. That was good stuff.
With a full eight days off until the first-year class that I am a TA for has its scheduled exam, it's going to be a good time for some reflection and looking ahead. Reading at my own pace without having disruptions for doing class work and all that goes with it is going to be high on the agenda, as will enjoying the Halifax springtime with Anna Lou. It's a nice way to recharge the batteries until I dive head-first into writing the thesis over the course of May and June (if not sooner should I feel so inclined), so hopefully that final product will be my very best writing and something I can be proud of to call my own. It's a comparative on American foreign policy under the presidencies of Truman and Bush, so I know that it will be a pleasure to write.

12 April 2006

Any folks out there still pro-porn?

If so, you really need to read this. If you're still pro-porn after reading this, you are beyond hope. A quick snippet, thanks to BitingBeaver:

The abuses continue as the men eat it up, the more painful and degrading the better. The girls are used and destroyed, committing suicide, dying of overdoses, or melting into oblivion penniless and forever bearing the mark of the sex industry. And despite what they want you to believe it is NOT just "a rare occurrence", it infects the industry. Yet, industry defenders are quick to point to the women who have ‘made it’. The Jenna Jameson’s of the world, and even they are not immune. Ms. Jameson herself has experienced rapes and abuses that would crush any man I’ve ever met. How exactly is she not a victim again?
Even though I'm no longer a Liberal, I checked out a "community" meeting last night here in Halifax that Michael Ignatieff was apparently going to be at. I didn't stay the entire time because I had to finish a term paper, and thus I don't know if he did appear or not, but many of his supporters there reaffirmed a lot of my own thoughts that he definitely has the talent and the ability to win this race, and about the Liberal Party in general. He brings a lot to the table and is someone who is 'clean' from all of the Martin-Chretien stuff that has divided the party for so long. Even at the age of 58, he's a relatively fresh face in the party who doesn't have a lot of the old Liberal baggage that people can be attacked with. That said, I'm not sure that "sorry, I was at Harvard at the time" would be a good recusal from accusations like Adscam et al. He's certainly got a lot of people lining up behind him, and I've made my thoughts pretty well-known on the subject of Ignatieff.
The Ignatieff stuff aside, I still have deep reservations about the mentality of the Liberal Party. In the hour+ that I was at the meet-up, there was the usual few minutes of Bush-bashing (he only speaks for 51% of Americans because that's what his popular vote was--what did the Liberals do in January?), chest-thumping on Kyoto and people wondering why nobody brought up Harper's anti-Kyoto position during the election (maybe because we're 25th out of 27 OECD countries when it comes to meeting our Kyoto requirements), and a general feeling that a return to majority government is right around the corner. There were some who acknowledged the "penalty box" and the bad Liberal record on Kyoto, but it's deeply overshadowed by people talking about being the natural governing party and how we Canadians are soooo much better than the Americans. I support Ignatieff despite the Liberal Party. It'd be a lot easier if he were a Conservative. heh

09 April 2006

Taliban Thinks Canadians are Weak

This scares me a bunch. The Taliban look to be gearing up to force Canadians to cut and run from Afghanistan. They see a legitimate exercise in democracy (the forthcoming debate tomorrow night) as a sign of weakness. I'd like to pass this on to the Taliban: you're wrong. Canadians don't cut and run. We stay on with the mission until the mission is complete.
That doesn't prevent me from having some apprehensions. The support for Afghanistan is generally soft, and the more often we see Canadian-flag-draped coffins being unloaded from planes the more the left will mobilize against our ongoing participation to rebuild that country. The Taliban knows that this tactic has worked in Iraq, as states that initially supported the coalition there have withdrawn their support as time wore on and casualties occurred. This escalation of the front in Kandahar isn't something that should catch people unaware, as I'd been hearing rumblings all through last year that because of the lack of American forces in the country to bring about the Taliban's final defeat they'd been able to regroup and orchestrate a spring offensive. That's happening now. The problem the election caused in all of this was that the major parties were too focused on getting into office and thus couldn't really discuss the details of the Afghan mission at any great length. Harper has done well to rally support, but more needs to be done so that Canadians have a fuller understanding of exactly what is happening now. Hopefully tomorrow will help with that and thus take the wheels out of any future overtures to prematurely end our presence.
The Liberal Leadership Race

As everybody in Canada knows, the Liberals are in the midst of another leadership contest to replace Paul Martin, the greatest footnote in Canadian political history. People are signing up, gadflies are dropping off, and there's a potential intellectual heavyweight showdown for a finale, as any combination of Michael Ignatieff, Stephane Dion, Bob Rae, and Ken Dryden would be insightful and stimulating to the many of us who want to see politics at a higher level. Harper's off to a good start on that already, but having a brilliant opposition leader like any of those four names I just mentioned will really raise the bar. It is regrettable that, yes, the names above are four old white guys and that there aren't, at this stage, any really credible female candidates. I'm sure that Martha Hall Findlay is a very capable and apt politician, but her name is simply not as well known as the four above. I will also add that it is for the best that Belinda Stronach dropped off, as a debate between her and any of the "big four" would demonstrate in plain view her many shortcomings in the qualifications for the leadership.
Full disclosure, just in case of the readers of this blog don't know my history: I am not a member of the Liberal Party. I was once, but I let my membership expire last December for a number of reasons:
1. I simply could not support Paul Martin any longer. It started with the BMD flip-flop and got progressively worse from there.
2. Like it or not, my age means that I officially have to sit at the kids' table. This is something which I have no interest in doing, as I'm fully capable of playing with the grown-ups, and moreover, the YLCs have a number of policies that I disagree with on a very fundamental basis.
3. I didn't like the local Liberal candidate (a problem exacerbated in late January) and being a Liberal would likely have precluded me from being able to work with the Andrew House campaign during the election. Even though I don't like the Youth label, Mr. House is a very astute younger politician who would have brought a fresh face and outlook that Alexa Macdonough and Martin MacKinnon simply could not bring.
All that said, there's a chance I may rejoin the Liberal party next year, when I'm the even-older age of 26, so that I can avoid the YLC attachment. A lot of it will depend upon who emerges as the leader of the party, where I'm at on the ideologicial spectrum vis-a-vis that leader, and how good of a job Harper does in his first year as Prime Minister of Canada. There's a lot of "ifs" there, but time will tell.
My personal preference, and this is not a prediction, is that Michael Ignatieff wins the race. A lot of people make a big deal out of the fact that he's lived outside of Canada for most of the past thirty years. That's fine, and they're certainly entitled to do so. In spite of that fact, Ignatieff is more on the pulse of the future of Canada than most who actually do live here full-time are aware of. All one needs to do is read The Rights Revolution and his essay "Canada Meets a Moment of Truth" to capture the sentiments of many when it comes to human rights and Canada's place in the world.
I know that many people opposed the war in Iraq, but I'm curious as to whether that was because of the process or because of the conflict itself? I'm not a big fan of "what if history," but what if there was a UN resolution, what if there was a strong voice within Canada that liberating 25 million people from a brutal tyrant was something that Canadians should stand up for and support, etc. To me, a lot of the opposition arose because of the process, indicative of what amounts to a fetish for multilateralism in Canada. We don't have the ability to do things on our own, and thus the fact that America does makes Canadians (and Europeans, and the Russians, and the Chinese) wary of American power. It's a natural reaction, and thus when you add that to a long-simmering anti-American sentiment because of other issues, the pot simply boiled over on the Iraq case. Ignatieff's support of the war was not some neoconservative-inspired or -sympathizing approach; his focus was on the humanitarian aspects of regime change. As an author of The Responsibility to Protect--a Canadian endeavour that establishes the criteria for intervening in another sovereign state--he knows a thing or two about when those criteria are breached.
The torture issue is another one that dogs Ignatieff. I wrote about it a few days ago here, you can scroll down to read my response. Simply put, the people who say that Ignatieff supports torture are the people who don't have the attention span to read a full-length academic article.
Of course, Ignatieff is not the only candidate in this race; he's my preference, but there's another person I wouldn't mind seeing win. That is Stephane Dion. Many of you will know that Mr. Dion is the reason that I am involved in politics in the first place. Way back in 1997 I had to do an assignment in Social Studies where I'd have to write a letter to a politician on an issue that was important to us. Always one interested in ways to keep the country together and a tough anti-separatist in the mold of Chretien (not Martin...see Delacourt's book), I asked about the legalities of whether or not Quebec separation could be done. Remember that this was before the Quebec Secession Reference and the Clarity Act and only 1.5 years after the '95 referendum. I wrote to the PM, but the response came from Dion, who was Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs at the time. There was a rather large package of stuff and information, and a personally written and signed response. I thought that was really great and I appreciated the time Dion took to answer a question from a 16-year old kid from Okanagan Falls. So yeah I've got a soft spot for Dion.
I see him as the 2006 version of what Chretien was back in 1990. He's been around forever, has had numerous major portfolios and some significant achievements, he knows the in's and out's of Ottawa like nobody's business. There's really not much left for him to do, so he may as well take a run at being the party leader. I don't know if he's the senior statesman in the party, but he's got a lot more qualitative Cabinet experience than most, and that's something which none of his major opponents can claim (well maybe Bob Rae in Ontario). There's also that party convention where they alternate between an anglophone and francophone leader, and since he's the only declared fracophone candidate so far, that gives him a pretty good base of support in Quebec. He'll make it far so long as he sticks to the record he's built up over the years.

Ignatieff and Dion are the two guys I perceive to be the frontrunners at this stage. That can change, and when I see that happening I'll say a little more about the others. Either of these two would make a fine leader. I favour Ignatieff not only for the intellectual reasons but also because he's a fresh face. Canadian politics can get awfully stale sometimes, and though I respect Dion enormously, I'm not entirely sure that turning to a Chretien-era Cabinet minister is the best way forward for the Liberals.
I'd like to see more women getting involved in this race, as well. Hedy Fry is not a credible option, and that "burning crosses" comment will haunt her until she retires. Carolyn Bennett is a name that I've heard (not just for the notorious Defence Policy Debate we did at Dalhousie) who might enter the race. If she's important enough to blow off a bunch of university students she's got to have something going for her. I honestly haven't heard too many other names, in part because I'm not a Liberal and thus on the outside but largely because I've been focusing too much on school stuff to pay full attention, but I really hope that some strong female candidates do put their mark on this campaign, not for the sake of having women candidates, but to inspire other women to get involved in the process and make their voice heard much more strongly than we presently see.

07 April 2006


No more pencil, no more books....all that jazz.
I have just returned from my final class as a graduate student at Dalhousie. I've still got 1 paper and 1 exam, plus that thesis thing, but the classes are done. Finito. Gonzo. A thing of the past. Exist only in memories. That's a good feeling.

Bryan was awesome last night, when I've got more time (i.e. after my birthday) I'll do something that remotely resembles a full report. The DVD I made sure does kick ass though.

06 April 2006

The Good, the Bad, and the Nasty

As of 10:43am, my day has already encountered experiences in all three. A brief summation:
The Good:
I woke up. That always beats the alternative.
Going to see Bryan Adams tonight.
Got another birthday card in the mail.
Had coffee & muffin with Tasha.
Got cheque from government covering the last two years of GST payments.

The Bad:
When I woke up, my globalization paper still had not written itself. I will thus be spending most of this day working on it.
On the way home from the bus stop, a car damn near hit me as he sped across the crosswalk, with the little stop lighting flashing like crazy. Haligonian drivers are as bad as Kelowna drivers. I've had numerous close encounters because people simply do not pay attention while they are driving.

The Nasty:
This is the type of thing that frosts my biscuit, which is not a good thing. Tasha & I are standing at the bus stop and these two girls come along into the little shelter. One of them lights a cigarette and just starts smoking away. Now, I don't know if you've ever stood in the little bus stalls, but on every wall, in blue letters, it quite plainly says, "No Smoking". Add on to this, there are people (Tasha & I) who are also standing in the stall. How fucking rude and inconsiderate some people can be, it is astonishing. For those who don't know, I find smoking the most abhorrent and flat-out disgusting habit anybody can ever take up, it's anti-social, it stinks, and it kills people. Having lived in completely smoke-free environments since first moving to Kelowna, I've got a tremendous aversion to the smell of it. I can smell it on anything, simply because the air compared to what I breathe 99.99% of the time is completely free of it. That .01% of my life that I have to deal with it aggravates and annoys me to no end, and my blood boils when people are so ignorant as to smoke in a non-smoking area when there is a sign that says No Smoking less than 12 inches from their face. Couple that with the idiot driver and my mood, which should be fantastic (see The Good), borders on being ruined because of two people who cannot be bothered to show a little consideration for the other people they share the world with. But alas, the power of The Summer of '69 and $700 in found money will trump that. And the birthday card, because I like reminders that I'm nearing a quarter-century.
Time to go write the paper.

02 April 2006


Most productive weekend ever? It may well have been. I wrote/typed (mostly typed) a 7500 word term paper, a book review, an IR summary (well, half of one), and marked all but a small handful of the papers that were to be done. I'm really quite pleased with myself, so much so that I'm going to take tomorrow until about 2pm off. Because after that, reading for class, starting to write a term paper critique, and drafting ideas for my IR term paper. The joys of grad student-dom, I tells ya.
On a completely unrelated note, the Junos were awful. Pam sucks and I'm glad that she nearly got booed out of the building with that opening monologue. Thumbs up to the good Maritime folks who realize that economic interests trump celebrity "moral dilemmas" and that it is more important for the thousands of people who depend on the seal hunt to be able to earn their keep than to pander to Hollywood types who all-too-readily admit that they're out of touch with us folks who actually have to work to stay ahead in life. The Bryan Adams stuff was cool, and I'm really looking forward to the concert on Thursday. Beyond that, Junos get two thumbs down.

01 April 2006

I give up. There's no sense in trying to hold this back any longer. The time has come for me to make available to the world something which I have been harbouring for a long time. I wish that Paul Martin had been re-elected. Say what you will about him and his shortcomings, no Prime Minister of Canada has ever conducted perfect policy. I forgive him for taking the earnest advice of the Quebec Young Liberals and opting Canada out of formal participation in the American imperialistic ballistic missile defence plan. I realize now that George W. Bush's Star Wars scheme is unworkable, that the system can never work and will allow the United States to conduct a nuclear first strike without fear of reprisal. I'm glad that Paul Martin changed his mind on Iraq and realized that Canada has no business supporting imperialist conquests for oil; the Bush-to-Baghdad pipeline is being constructed by Halliburton as we speak and Canada should be proud that it told the United States its clear and unambiguous position on regime change as a demonstration of its independence and enlightened position on how to solve the world's problems. Let me be very, very clear, Canada is a leader in the world, taking all necessary measures to implement the Kyoto Protocol. We believe in the environment, and Paul Martin's plan to fix the environment was well on its way to being formulated and then implemented.
Paul, please come back. Canada needs you to rescue us from the hidden neoconservative agenda of what is in reality the Canadian Alliance masquerading as a Conservative Party. The party of Macdonald is no more, and only Paul Martin can stop this right-wing party that is clearly moving Canada in a direction it should not be taking. Stephen Harper is well on his way to becoming Bush's new best friend, just like your ad campaign said he would. Let me tell you something, Mr. Harper, my Canada is a country that speaks with one voice, not two, not ten, but one voice that is clear and consistent in telling the United States what Canada's interests are. We were not founded upon American conservative values; never mind that many Americans loyal to the British Crown came to this country to live in peace and tranquility and enjoy their individual rights as conferred by the monarchy. Mr. Harper, your fundamentalist agenda, which you hint at every time you say "God Bless Canada," is not the type of country we want. We need a Liberal government in power to project Canadian Values and be a beacon to the world. Only Paul Martin can do this. Please re-think your position, Paul, and lead us again.