30 December 2009

My Team Canada Picks

These are the men I'd want representing Canada at the Olympics in Vancouver:

Goaltender - Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, Marc-Andre Fleury (sorry Carey)

Defence
Scott Neidermayer - Chris Pronger
Shea Weber - Dion Phaneuf
Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
7th - Drew Doughty

Forwards
Rick Nash - Sidney Crosby - Jarome Iginla (Iginla gets the C as well)
Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Dany Heatley
Corey Perry - Ryan Getzlaf - Jonathan Toews
Jeff Carter - Mike Richards - Shane Doan
13th - Steven Stamkos

**Update** I got all 3 goalies and 6 of the 7 d-men. Swap out Phaneuf and in is Dan Boyle. Up front, out are Carter, Doan, and Stamkos; in are Bergeron, Morrow, and Staal. So, 19/23. Not bad.

11 December 2009

Jobbed

Last night, with 5:52 remaining in the third period, the Canadiens scored a goal to tie the game 3-3. The puck was loose in a goal-mouth scramble, and Scott Gomez pushed it over the line. The red light came on, the crowd roared with cheers.

But wait! Enter Chris Lee.

The last time a referee called for the end of a play in Montreal that quickly, Bret Hart punched Vince McMahon in the face.

At some point the NHL must re-visit the way it handles video replay with regards to the timing of a puck crossing the line, the referee blowing his whistle, and a loose puck. If a puck is loose and the referee is out of position, thus unable to make the correct call, why should the call stand? What is the point of investing in all this technology, having all these cameras at all angles of the ice, of having a "war room" in Toronto where League officials can review a play in order to make sure that the correct call is made, if all of it can be overturned by what the League casually refers to as "human judgment"? Why bother with this idea of "getting the call right" if the ability to overturn the wrong call in such circumstances is flatly denied?

Far too often this season we have seen the wrong call. Brad May was denied a goal on a play that was so blatantly obvious it hurts. Goals have been scored when play has continued after a puck has hitting the netting above the glass. So-called "quick whistles" have denied good goals. Even whistles that you don't hear until after the puck is in the net have denied ostensibly good goals, because if the ref intended to blow the whistle that's good enough. There is something evidently wrong with the way the referees are calling games in the NHL.

The NHL also needs to introduce a public accountability system for its officials. Two years ago, NFL referee Ed Hochuli horribly botched a call that affected the outcome of a game. Read the details here. Hochuli admitted his mistake and the NFL held him accountable, downgrading his referee status and making him ineligible to officiate playoff games that season. Hochuli is one of the NFL's most well-known and -respected referees, a 20-year veteran that has worked a pair of Super Bowls. But he was admittedly in the wrong on that play, and the League made sure that he was disciplined for the error. At this time, no such system exists in the NHL. Players and coaches are under threat of a severe fine if they in any way, shape, or form criticize officials for their work. The League does not discuss mistakes that are made on the ice. If the referees are taken to task, we do not hear about it. This must change, for the integrity of the game.

04 December 2009

Happy 100th Birthday to the Montreal Canadiens

As Michael Farber has said, "The only two Western institutions that really get ceremony are the House of Windsor and the Montreal Canadiens." Today is the culmination of a year-long series of celebrations of the greatest hockey team that has ever existed, the bleu, blanc, et rouge, Les Glorieux, the 24-time Stanley Cup Champions, the Montreal Canadiens. They are Canada's team, loved from coast to coast to coast and around the world, a symbol of professional sports excellence, dignity, grace, and class. There is no prouder organization, and the players that have worn La Sainte-Flanelle have represented that level of pride with equal vigour.

I have been a fan of the Canadiens since as far back as I can remember. Saturday nights with my dad were all about the Canadiens on Hockey Night in Canada. I grew up with Patrick Roy as a hero; I was devastated when he was traded following his public humiliation at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings and Mario Tremblay. I cheered with joy when the won the Stanley Cup in 1993 and I remember the tears when they lost in 1989. For as long as anything has been in my life, there has always been the Canadiens. I was there during the dark times of the 1990s, rooting the team on in the hopes that somehow the likes of Valeri Bure, Jocelyn Thibault, Martin Rucinsky, and Pierre Turgeon could achieve the same successes of all the greats that preceded them. During those years, the bar for a "good season" was lowered drastically. Making the playoffs was, and remains, the benchmark and the objective. It's a long way from the days where planning a Cup parade "along the usual route" was seemingly a given.

Throughout all those turbulent times, there was only one consistent ray of light: Saku Koivu. If not for Roy, he would easily be ranked #1 as the greatest Canadien of my lifetime. It seems like such an injustice that this amazing player and even better human being never got to hoist the Cup in Montreal. He never had the dazzling 50-goal seasons and he never inspired fear in opposing goaltenders, but in my lifetime there has not been a player that wore the CH with more pride and class than Saku Koivu. He always worked hard, he always gave his all, and he always led by example. No player since the incomparable Jean Beliveau exemplified what it means to be a captain of the Canadiens, and it truly goes to show how big Saku's shoes are to fill that 30 games into the post-Koivu era there is no current captain of the Canadiens.

The Montreal Canadiens are and will remain the most storied franchise in all of professional hockey, and forever in the top 3 in all of professional sports. From Joliat to Hainsworth to Morenz to Lalonde to Vezina to The Rocket to Beliveau to The Pocket Rocket to Cournoyer to Lafleur to Dryden.... you get the idea! The greatest players in the history of the game plied their trade in Montreal's hallowed Forum, dazzling fans and earning the respect of all of their peers in pro sports. Only the New York Yankees have been more successful at winning championships, and no other hockey team will threaten the Canadiens' mark for decades to come.

Some will say Gretzky was the greatest of all time; others will say Howe or Orr or Lemieux. All are true greats of them, but none transcended the sport into the very fabric of Canadiana and into Quebec lore like Maurice Richard. You need to only recall the closing ceremonies from the last game at the Montreal Forum to realize just how loved, admired, and respected this man was. For 9 uninterrupted minutes they cheered his name as he stood at centre ice, overwhelmed, almost embarrassed at the admiration bestowed upon him. His funeral was broadcast live across Canada, and over 100,000 people paid their respects as his body lay in state. His on-ice exploits--the 50 goals in 50 games, the Stanley Cups, 82 playoff goals--are almost overshadowed by the larger-than-life entity that is "The Rocket."

There are so many things about the Canadiens I can discuss. "100 Years of Glory" has been the constant motif throughout this year-long celebration. The organization, the players, the accomplishments, the records--there is so much to celebrate. Today let us all bask in that glory. Think not of the current team's record or struggles. Forget for one day the things that we find lacking. Enjoy the legacy of excellence, honour the traditions, celebrate the legends, and remember the good times. Go Habs Go!

01 December 2009

Happy December!

It's snowing outside. Joy.

Could be worse, I guess. At least I'm not this guy:

29 November 2009

Crashing the Divide Between Self-Obsessed Celebrity-Seekers and Serious People

I've been thinking quite a bit about the incident last week where an uninvited couple seeking their 15 minutes of fame crashed a White House dinner party. It was a major security breach and even though the couple passed through security scanners without any weapons, thus not posing any threat to any of America's political leaders, they are the next folks in a series of people who are looking for fame and fortune at any cost. Apparently the couple is now in negotiations with the Bravo! Network for a TV show, and they also had a camera crew following their adventures at the White House.

To me, there should be a separation between entertainment and state. Let the celebrities do their thing while the serious people conduct the business of the country. There are certainly some very well-educated and highly articulate celebrities that voice their political opinions--the governor of California is the freakin' Terminator, after all--but more often than not we get the eye-rolling escapades of Britney Spears or Sean Penn. I have a great fear that one day a major political party is going to elect its presidential candidate or party leader on an American Idol-style show, complete with 20 second soundbites, choreographed dance numbers, and the winners are judged by Ellen Degeneres and Simon Cowell. For goodness sakes, we already have Sarah Palin on the precipice of being the Republican candidate for 2012; imagine the possibilities of how it could get even worse!

Getting back to the White House crashers, we've already crossed the line when it comes to self-obsessed celebrity seeking. The balloon boy incident was an embarrassment, and the family should be in jail or some sort of counselling, not hoping the good executives of TLC call looking to make them the next John & Kate. The fact that two dumbasses think that getting into the White House to pose for pictures with Joe Biden and Rahm Emanuel should be their ticket to fame and notoriety is kind of revolting to me. These clowns can go crash Paris Hilton's birthday or have live sex on Facebook or whatever obscure means they want to go through to find their 15 minutes and get their TV show. Leave the serious people who have serious things to do alone. Sure they were having a little party - it's not an invitiation for YOU to come join. And really, the politicos have their own ways to make asses of themselves for the gossip pages.

27 November 2009

Can Carey Price Make the Olympic Team?

With his play this past month I have to wonder if my favourite goaltender might have an opportunity to be named the #3 goaltender for Team Canada at the Olympics. Of course Roberto Luongo and Martin Brodeur are locks for the 1-2 positions, not necessarily in that order. But there's been some shifting in the rankings for who gets to be the pressbox watcher. There was a lot of talk about Steve Mason at the start of the season but he's been going through the dreaded sophomore jinx, and his numbers this year are not so good. Marc-Andre Fleury has the benefit of being the defending Stanley Cup Champions' goaltender, and his play has been stellar this year.

Carey Price stumbled out of the blocks this year, further burying his chances after the collapse of last season. But ever since Halak's agent got on the Twitter, Carey has been sensational. The game against Pittsburgh the other day was the first game in 7 that he'd allowed more than 2 goals. His save percentage has been around the .940% mark over that stretch. He's been making a lot of big saves and giving his injury-depleted roster a chance to win every night. If he can keep up his level of play through the end of December, when Team Canada names the official roster, can he make the team?

Discuss.

Carey Price

26 November 2009

New Layout

I got really tired of the old one, as images were always severely cropped and restricted without a lot of fidgeting. Plus I'm attached to these colours a little bit.

Take the Pledge




Here: http://www.whiteribbon.ca/pledge

25 November 2009

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

Every day should be the day for the elimination of violence against women. Here's why:

* 1 in 3 women experience male violence at some point in their lives.
* Nearly 60% of Canadian men find prostitution acceptable. 92% of women who are involved in prostitution do not.
* Every day in Halifax, Nova Scotia, at least one woman reports a sexual assault.
* Less than 10% of sexual assaults are reported to police.
* 97% of sexual assaults are committed by men.
* 83% of the more than 40,000 acts of domestic violence in Canada in 2007 were committed against women.

06 November 2009

Possibly the Most Damning Thing of All

"Sheila Fraser's scathing report on Canada's ability to deal effectively with a national emergency such as H1N1 has landed relatively quietly. It's almost as if most people already knew their senior levels of government had failed them, so Fraser's report comes as not much of a surprise." (Howard Elliott, Hamilton Spectator, November 5, 2009)

Generally speaking, when Sheila Fraser submits a report it doesn't land quietly, in absolute terms or even relative to, oh I don't know, Spinal Tap turning it to 11. Even though people knew something was wrong with the sponsorship program, when Fraser released her report it was a bombshell of monolithic proportions. So for her to issue a report on the shortcomings of Ottawa's preparedness and have it generate nary more than a shrug of the shoulders is truly revealing of just how little Canada thinks of its government's response to the H1N1 pandemic. It is true that Canadians are renowned for their politically apathetic ways, but the silence speaks volumes.

02 November 2009

My Head Hurts

Myth 4: Taking the regular flu shot puts me at risk of becoming very ill with H1N1

Fact 4: Preliminary findings from some Canadian studies indicate that those healthy adults that tested positive for H1N1 were twice as likely to have received seasonal vaccine. More research is needed to establish whether or not there is a causal relationship between these factors. What is important is that there is no association with receiving seasonal vaccine and experiencing serious illness from H1N1.

This information was sent to me this morning. Break it down:
The "myth" is that getting the seasonal flu shot increases the likelihood of getting H1N1
The response is to say that studies show that people who got H1N1 got the seasonal flu vaccine – they are "twice as likely" to get H1N1 as some unidentified group. The response continues to say that getting the flu shot has no causal relationship to getting H1N1.

Is it any wonder that Canadians are confused as to whether or not they should be lining up to get the H1N1 vaccine?

29 October 2009

Priorities

Setting priorities in federal politics is not an easy task. Just ask Stephane Dion. Make sure to ask the question clearly or you may have to start over again. That said, is it not a little disconcerting that the federal government has spent a considerably greater amount trumpeting its own horn on the stimulus spending (yes, spending to promote spending) than it has on promoting H1N1 awareness? It seems to me that it would be a wise course of action to have Leona Aglukkaq making regular appearances to tell the good people of Canada what they should do with regards to H1N1, the appropriateness of getting the vaccine (this would include dispelling any lingering rumours), and giving Canadians an update on what preventative and reactive steps the government is taking to combat the deadly virus. Any of these items would be better than laughing at Carolyn Bennett when she asks a question about pregnant women and H1N1 during Question Period. Any of them. A quick visit to the Health Canada website reveals no updates since October 21st.



Does this strike you as being not nearly good enough? It sure does for me. It reminds a lot of a good chunk of 2007 when Condi Rice was pretty much invisible. We've got a major issue on our hands, and the minister in charge of the portfolio is not stepping up to the plate to deliver for us.

We deserve better.

14 October 2009

Brian Burke and All His Friends

Liberal Scott Reid: Beer & Popcorn; Conservative Scott Reid: Your Dollars Are Mine

Saw this at Warren's today:



The nadir of the 2006 Liberal campaign involved a prominent party spokesman stating that Canadian parents would use the government's "child care program" money to spend on "beer and popcorn." He was, quite rightly, widely excoriated for the comment.

This fellow is not the same Scott Reid, but he's up to something even more nefarious. He is using Government of Canada funds--you know, the ones that you and I give them--as though they were his own to distribute to people in Conservative-friendly ridings. Money that is being distributed by the Government of Canada under the economic stimulus package is being claimed by Conservative Members of Parliament as theirs to give. Scott Reid did not give out a $556,850 cheque out of his bank account; he did so out of the public coffers.

That's a bit of a problem eh?

08 October 2009

Habs Lose Ugly in Vancouver

What is it with the western Canadian road trip? It was the nadir of the 2008-09 campaign and last night against the Canucks certainly stirred up some bad memories. However, the guys will rally and will bounce back on Saturday against the Oilers. I still have a lot of optimism.

One thing that I'm not liking seeing is the excuse that it was their second game in as many nights.

I'm not superbly concerned at this point; I'd like to think it was just one bad game. Hey, it happens. Look at the Minnesota Twins: after an epic 12-inning victory replete with high drama on Tuesday, the Yankees smoked them 7-2 last night. They couldn't turn to their bullpen, the bats were tired, and while the mind was willing the body just wasn't able. But they've played 163 games already. If we're having to fall back on that 4 games into the season this could be a truly ugly campaign. I would have trouble playing a full 60 minutes on two consecutive nights, and I'm sure many of us other faithful followers would as well. But we're talking about (presumably) elite-level athletes with superior conditioning. If they're so wiped out, listless, and prone to on-ice mental/physical breakdowns after playing the night before and it's early October, what can we expect to see on a back-to-back in February?

Like I said, I'd like to think this was just a bad game, and not an ominous glimpse into what we can expect. I am far, far away from giving up my seat on the bandwagon. But I truly hope that giving up and going to bed after two periods doesn't become a regular event.

01 October 2009

On the Phoenix Court Decision

Shortly after hearing that Judge Baum had rendered his verdict, I flocked to the Internet to read the court's statement. 31 pages isn't so bad, even if a good chunk of it was legalese jargon that I don't full understand. I'm not a lawyer but I'm still more or less intelligent, so I made my way through it.
The first striking item is the revelation of the Coyotes' losses while operating in the Desert. I can't even fathom having one hundred million dollars, let alone losing it in the course of one hockey season. That happened in 2007-08. Small wonder that Moyes filed for bankruptcy. That is catastrophic by any stretch of the imagination. The value of the team in Phoenix is about as much as that of Sergei Kostitsyn to the Montreal Canadiens right now; maybe somewhere else it could flourish, but not where it presently stands. There is no chance the team can be profitable in Glendale, so the only sensible economic solution is for the team to be relocated. The court acknowledged this as well in its citations of a number of expert opinions provided on the matter.
The problem all along that the NHL has had with Balsillie has been the way he's gone about his business. His "by any means necessary" approach has severely put off his potential colleagues on the NHL Board of Governors, who have a firmly established process that must be followed if one wishes to acquire team and possibly relocate it. Look how smoothly the transition has gone from George Gillett to the Molsons in Montreal. You play by the rules, you get to play with the big toys. I am not truly surprised by the fact that Judge Baum rejected Balsillie's bid with prejudice. Though it was far and away the best monetary offer, had Baum accepted Balsillie's bid it would have done major damage to the conduct of professional sports leagues. He recognized this, and though it hurts for all the nationalists in Canada that wanted a 7th team, it was the right thing to do.
The ruling on the NHL's bid is not a total win for the NHL, but it's a pass for a gimme goal. In essence, if the League tweaks its deal to pay Gretzky and Moyes the money they believe they're owed, the court will approve a modified bid and thus the NHL will take ownership of the Coyotes. Presumably they would flip the team as soon as possible to an approved owner, be it Reinsdorf or any other potential suitor that comes calling with a large amount of money. They may have to accept a season or two of financial hemhorraging in Glendale, but a relocation deal would likely be worked out to put the Coyotes in what would hopefully be a marketable region. It's anybody but Balsillie at this point as far as the NHL is concerned.

I'm glad that the saga appears to be coming to an end. All the Bettman haters out there will be displeased that he's essentially given himself another five-year lease as commissioner. Make no mistake: the other owners will be giving him hearty backslaps for keeping Balsillie out and ensuring that the old boys' club rules remain intact. For Balsillie it's strike three, and he's likely done as far as his ability to pursue his dream of owning and operating an NHL club. The BoG that was once favourable to him has been soured by the Nashville and Phoenix debacles he orchestrated, and without approval of his peers he simply has no avenues into the NHL. And Phoenix, poor, poor Phoenix. They'll continue to languish in the Desert, playing in a mostly empty arena and losing games on a regular basis. For now.

28 September 2009

Marching with Hamas? Fine. But Overruled on a Nomination...

Denis Coderre has finally come to a simple point of fact that many have known for some time when "he realized 'lacked moral authority' to do his job." I have personally never felt much use for this individual, whether it was his pathetic attempt to smear Shane Doan as an anti-Quebecois bigot or his particularly vile march alongside Hamas and other terrorist sympathizers. So he resigned today, and all of a sudden Michael Ignatieff's coterie of advisers is that much stronger. Addition by subtraction and all of that.

23 September 2009

Mmmm Donuts

It's late September and that means it's time for the annual gathering of world leaders at that wonderful talk shop, the United Nations. High on this year's agenda: climate change, a new dialogue between the United States and the rest of the world, and other matters of global interest. It is one of the few times every year in which we see so many heads of government convened in a single location to discuss global issues, and thus an opportunity to forge new friendships, partnerships, and consensus.

Stephen Harper is spending today in Oakville to talk about Tim Horton's with the media.

Maybe what Stephane Dion said about priorities was true all along.

10 September 2009

In Alaska, Sarah Palin is Smiling

She has found her ideal running mate for 2012. Joe Wilson, congressional Republican from South Carolina, is her type of people. Two peas in a pod. They'll get the Republican base motivated even more than Bush v. Kerry did in '04, certainly much more than last year's election. McCain just isn't what a Republican wants these days. But Mrs. Palin and Mr. Wilson, that'll get them going. Wrap themselves in the flag and say anything--at any moment in time--about Obama and his policies, and they're set.

While to most educated people, Obama/Biden v. Palin/Wilson seems like a walk in the park for the former pairing, never underestimate the voting power of a motivated Republican base. It'll give the Jon Stewarts and Stephen Colberts of the world more comedic material than Bush ever did, and to many outsiders it would seem like there'd be no way in hell Americans could possibly put that latter combination in the White House, it might just happen.

Because American electoral politics are sometimes scary & funny all at once.

31 August 2009

Today is MuchMusic's 25th birthday. It's a pretty big anniversary but not one that the station has chosen to honour in any significant way. I wonder if this is because people would see that the channel actually used to be pretty good.
I remember shortly after joining Facebook, one of the first groups that came to my attention was called "When I was your age, MuchMusic didn't suck." I found it, and still do, entirely apropos after reading this article because of the basic truth of it. Bland DJs, the creativity sucked out of all the actual music programming, and shows that are of minimal interest to a music-seeking audience; it's not a recipe for success in any medium. Remember the 4-hour blocks of music videos? Remember when MuchOnDemand played videos that people requested via phone, mail (some of the work people went into the signs was amazing when you consider the intention), etc., instead of having staged requests for the current industry hot hits? Remember Spotlight, where you'd get a solid half-hour block of a band's hits and bio? Certainly the VJs from the 90s--Bill Welychka, Rick the Temp, even Ed The Sock--had a lot more personality and flair than the current bunch because they were allowed to express themselves. The current crew has to tow a company line in order to avoid hurting the profit margins - can you possibly envision Devin Soltendieck trashing Fall Out Boy or Ashley Simpson and their terrible music?
The times have changed, and not for the better. You know that when it's 2009 and the only references to Metallica you hear on the network involve Napster, there's a real problem. Nine Inch Nails is wrapping up their final tour as a live act, not a mention of it--gets in the way of the latest Katy Perry video. But the biggest problem of all for Much is that they've become a product of their environment: the music industry is becoming increasingly irrelevant, and as a consequence so is Much. There was a time that they'd be setting trends in Canada, serving as a place that young kids could watch and get informed as to what's current and hot. Now, it simply serves up whatever their corporate masters tell them to for public consumption and equally quick disposal.

27 August 2009

Next Thing You Know, the Pigs Will Be Sleeping in Mr. Jones' House

The old axiom "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss" seems apropos this morning after reading about Prime Minister Stephen Harper's latest round of Senate appointments. While it's not the first time he's gone directly against old Reformatory thought about a more representative Senate under the Triple E criteria, this time is particularly brazen in terms of its patronage. His campaign chair Doug Finley is moving up to the Red Chamber. Carolyn Stewart-Olsen, the media relations expert that has done wonders in creating a delightfully toxic relationship between the PMO and the Canadian media, is also getting a plumb patronage position. The demagogical, populist ways of the past are clearly being left there by this Prime Minister, who was once the champion of an elected house of sober second thought.
Way back in 2006, Andrew Coyne wrote about the then-new Prime Minister's first foray into Senate reform, stating, "For Mr. Harper, the most important thing off the top is to destabilize the status quo, which is to say to delegitimize it." These latest appointments are as status quo as you can possibly get. Paul Martin appointed Francis Fox, his campaign chair, as well as a number of other long-time Liberals. I was critical of that too, so put away those "Liberal hypocrite" fusillades, folks. The Senate itself remains as illegitimate as ever, as does the process by which appointments to the chamber are made.

So for all the huff and puff over the years about Senate reform, we've seen exactly the same things from the Reformatories that they used to castigate the Liberals for doing. It was said that Harper would tackle the democratic deficit and address the need for true reform in the Senate, a move that would appeal not only to his base also to the countless Canadians that are tired of seeing politically well-connected people rewarded with golden parachutes to spend their golden years living off the public dollar for doing very little work. However, much like Napoleon and his cohorts living on Animal Farm, the trappings of power have made Harper and company difficult to distinguish from their Tory predecessors.

***Update*** Warren chimes in with some choice quotes here.

NHL Close to the Win

If Balsillie didn't take himself out of the game with his latest absurd demand that the team be sold to him by Sept. 10 so that he can immediately relocate them or he's withdrawing his bid, I think that the NHL is mighty close to declaring "checkmate" against him after this bit of news. Not only is it far too late in the League's timetable to move a team based in Arizona to Ontario because of that small matter of the schedule, it's the type of bully tactic that has been employed one too many times by Balsillie. He was so far ahead in the publicity game in the early stages of this process, what with the Make It Seven promotion and the clever public statements, but he has squandered virtually all of the goodwill he had engendered by taking on the NHL by refusing to play by the rules. He wrapped himself in the Canadian flag, which always works well in conflicts with the League and the perception that Bettman is anti-Canada, but his actions have been decidedly un-Canadian and he's shown himself to be a cowboy that doesn't respect his potential colleagues on the Board of Governors.
It's a double-win for Bettman to make the bid and leave open the door of whether the team can be relocated in the future. By taking over the team itself while furnishing Moyes and his creditors with sufficient cash to satisfy the bankruptcy court, the NHL also has the advantage in being to then re-sell the team on their own terms. The Arizona court is first and foremost concerned with getting Moyes out of bankruptcy and ensuring that his creditors are paid; what happens with the Phoenix Coyotes franchise is a secondary concern for Judge Baum. We all know Balsillie's got money, but his actions in the process have not only concerned the NHL but also every other major professional sports league in North America - the idea that a team can be re-located via extra-constitutional means scares the hell out of them. So while the court's concern about the Coyotes is secondary to the concern about dollars, the NHL's bid can satisfy both conditions. If they should hold their own auction in a year or two years after a successful bid, you can rest assured that Balsillie will be completely excluded from the process. If the team is unsustainable, and the NHL must follow through with relocation, it will be done in the traditional constitutional fashion. Make no mistkae: the team will inevitably be moved; it is simply a matter of where, when, and with whom as the owner. But with the unfolding issues from this past week, it is looking more and more like Jim Balsillie will not be that owner. And truth be told, I'm not sure that's a bad thing.

18 August 2009

#1? Not Even Close

It is only the height of arrogance that would possibly lead one to conclude that Ron Wilson, the coach of the Maple Leafs and in the upcoming Olympics of Team USA, would be anywhere near "public enemy #1" in the eyes of Canadian hockey fans. Yet the Globe and Mail comes to this conclusion here.

Let's face a simple fact: the United States is not a contender for these Olympics. They may have some good talent up front and on the blue line, but a tournament such as this--much like with the Stanley Cup playoffs--it all comes down to goaltending. And when you go into your summer orientation camp with Ryan Miller, Jon Quick, and Tim Thomas, you're in trouble from the get-go. Yes Miller has been good enough to lead his team to regular 10th place finishes, and yes Quick is a solid prospect for the Kings, and yes Thomas is the reigning Vezina winner. But do they hold a candle to Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, and whomever ends up as Canada's #3? Can any of them match Henrik Lundqvist? Evgeni Nabokov? No.

But there's more to this story than the idea that there's a huge hockey rivalry between Canada and the United States. It's the idea that because he's the coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and thus spends his time at the centre of the hockey universe, and is already not liked by Don Cherry, that somehow this hatred will be amped to an extreme level over the Olympics. Newsflash: people don't give a rat's ass about who is behind the bench; they care about who is on the ice and who will be giving their team fits. Nobody quivers over having to face a guy that coached the 11th place team in the Eastern Conference, and they certainly don't fear him enough to hate him. No, the people that Canadians are going to "hate" for potentially spoiling the party in Vancouver are the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Ilya Kovalchuk (wow those Russians are going to be good eh?), Henrik Zetterberg, Henrik Lundqvist, and other top-quality international stars.

Nobody is going to waste their team making a "Ron Wilson: Public Enemy #1" sign for these Olympics - at worst, some Leafs fan that already dislikes him will bring a "Fire Wilson" sign to the Games. But there are plenty of bigger fish to fry than Ron Wilson.

12 August 2009

I Call Bullshit

This is absolutely atrocious:

"Mr. Layton has written a book about investing in Canadians and their communities. Mr. Ignatieff has written books defending torture,” said Lavigne.

“Mr. Ignatieff has defended and supported the war in Iraq … If Mr. Ignatieff or Mr. Harper were prime minister in 2004, Canada would still be in Iraq today.”

This comment comes from Brad Lavigne, the NDP's communications director. If the NDP had a serious person running their party, Mr. Lavigne would be looking for a new job today. Since they don't, Lavigne will continue to make idiotic, false, and ideologically-charged comments that don't let details such as the facts get in the way.

Fact: Michael Ignatieff has not written a single book defending torture, let alone multiple books. He's written a book, The Lesser Evil, in which he addresses torture and flatly states that the practice of torture is anathema to a free and democratic society that is fighting a war against terror.

Fact: the Iraq War started in 2003.

Fact: neither Michael Ignatieff nor Stephen Harper were prime minister in 2003 or 2004, and thus discussing what would have happened if they were is intellectually irrelevant. Secondary fact: that it was 6 years ago compounds just how irrelevant the argument is. It's 2009, there probably won't be an election this year and who knows about next year - surely there are some relevant and pressing issues that the NDP would like to discuss.

Fact: unless there's some clandestine activity going on, Canada has not been in Iraq since 1991. Saying that we would "still" be there today makes absolutely no sense.

Fact: Michael Ignatieff has indeed supported the removal of Saddam Hussein and the liberation of 25 million Iraqis from his tyrannical grip. The NDP have always preferred that Saddam Hussein remained in power, as the status quo ante bellum was completely acceptable to the NDP. Routine detention, indefinite imprisonment, disappearing political rivals, and physical, psychological, and emotional terror - the hallmarks of the Saddam regime - are things that the NDP can tolerate as long as they're happening to Iraqis. Since George W. Bush opposed those things, the NDP, by reflex and default, supported them.

31 July 2009

HST to BC

There's considerable outrage in British Columbia over the announcement that the province is instituting a harmonized sales tax effective July 1, 2010. While there has long been a 7% PST on most items, that's now going to be applied across the spectrum. Naturally, people aren't happy. The letters to the editor section at Castanet is rife with anger. The thing that gets me about it is the personalization of the anger that is directed at Premier Campbell, as though the new tax is going directly into his wallet. "Organized crime," liar, thieves, yada yada yada.
I'm just young enough to not remember much of the outrage that occurred when the GST was implemented, replacing the manufacturers tax before it that was "hidden" in pricing. I remember the stand made by Sheila Copps after the Liberals were elected and subsequently didn't abolish it as promised, but little else. I'd imagine people were pretty angry, though.
Nobody likes taxes, this much is true. Me, I really don't like income taxes--more specifically, I really don't like having to deal with Revenue Canada when they screw up my return on an annual basis. Consumption taxes don't really bother me that much - it's all going to a good cause, right? I kid, I kid. Seriously though, when budget deficits are going to be the norm across the land for some years to come due to the brutalization that has occurred at the hands of Messrs. Harper and Flaherty, governments need revenue to continue to develop and deliver programs while keeping the books as close to balanced as possible. In a sense, I wonder if Campbell is taking a preemptive measure here as a guard against possible cuts to federal-provincial transfers that may well be in the offing. That's not the sum total of the reasoning behind the implementation, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's part of it.

All of this said, I'm still hoping to avoid paying the HST on the wedding.

27 July 2009

Coyotes to Play in Canada???

I'm sure that Balsillie is fuming over this notion.

From tsn.ca

According to a report in the Globe and Mail a group that is intending to bid on the Phoenix Coyotes wants to bring five of the team's regular season games to Saskatoon or Halifax.
The Globe is reporting that the group known as Ice Edge Holdings has been in discussion with both Canadian cities so that the Coyotes could play "home games" in either Saskatoons Credit Union Centre or likely the Halifax Metro Centre. The group also stated that should the Coyotes make the playoffs they would hold some of the team's post-season contests in the above-mentioned Canadian cities as well.
"Canada is obviously a tremendous hockey market, yet there are currently 6,000 kilometres of Canadian soil that have no exposure to the NHL in their home market," Ice Edge partner Daryl Jones told the Globe. "Our plan from the outset was to work with a Canadian city that doesn't have NHL territorial rights issues, and also one that wouldn't be considered a threat to the fans in Phoenix."
"It's a great opportunity to bring regular season NHL hockey to a Canadian city that otherwise would never have the opportunity. It is a great way to ensure the team stays in Phoenix for the long run, but partners with a Canadian city in the process."
The proposal, named "grassroots Canadian hockey strategy" will be presented to the NHL's executive board on Wednesday in Chicago. The group reportedly has no plans to relocate the team if their bid is successful and sees the games as an opportunity to generate additional revenue.


The Metro Centre is a dump but they would almost certainly sell more tickets for actual NHL games here and generate more revenue than they would in Phoenix. It would not be very pretty, as the arena here is even older than the Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh and lacks its charm. The QMJHL broadcasts don't look very hot and I can't imagine how they'd possibly be able to whip the place up to NHL standards for broadcasting purposes. Factor in the time zones and the excessive travel for a Western Conference team, and the Saskatoon option gains instant appeal vis-a-vis Halifax.
However, if they really wanted to get people all a-tizzy, book the games against the Habs, Leafs, Bruins, and Penguins. It may be a "home game" for the 'Yotes but I guarantee that the fan support would be like 99%-1% for the so-called visitors. This place is pretty evenly divided when it comes to loyalties, with a lot of the old-time hockey fans divided among the Ooriginal Six and a lot of the new wave latching on to the Penguins due to Sidney Crosby (who, btw, is coming here next Friday with the Stanley Cup!)The 1% for the Pittsburgh game would only cheer for Phoenix because they like Alex Ovechkin more than Crosby. They'd likely also get injured by the mob.

20 July 2009

West Kelowna Fires

Thoughts are with everybody in the affected and evacuated areas. We all remember what 2003 was like but we should also remember how Kelowna came together as a community and supported the brave firefighters. People will need to count upon one another for shelter, food, and supplies. I hope that everybody steps up and does their part and sets an example for people to aspire to meet.

Stay strong Kelowna!

09 July 2009

Saku

There is so much to say about Saku Koivu and what he means to true Habs fans and the city of Montreal. He is taken from the mold of Beliveau: pure class, a gentleman, respected by all of his peers and even many of his enemies, somebody who transcends the game and serves as a reminder that there are some very good people out there. He did everything he could to make a winner in Montreal, and has always stood above the criticisms levelled at him by people that could never in their own wildest dreams measure up to his calibre. He will be truly missed. It will be so strange to not see #11 in a Montreal jersey next season, and equally strange to see him wearing a different sweater. Even without the Cups of the legendary leaders who came before him, Saku Koivu deserves to have his name mentioned among the all-time great Canadiens and I would not at all be surprised to see serious consideration regarding the potential retirement of that jersey. Red Fisher aptly described Saku with the nickname "Special K"; the fans of Anaheim will now get the opportunity to see how special this man is. Thank you for the memories, Saku, and good luck.

08 July 2009

The Non-Cookie Eating Monster!

Uhhhh, OK.

'It's a scandal'

On any given day there are few things I find more ridiculous than religion. I find it even more ridiculous when the two co-mingle. And this one takes the wafer.

Look, I'm all for knocking on Harper for any number of reasons. Putting a stupid cookie in his pocket isn't one of them. It's a cookie. He's not not eating Jesus or drinking his blood (he only eats and drinks the blood of kittens, doncha know?) or whatever bizarre ritualistic meaning is affixed by religious types to cookies, he's simply not eating a cookie. Putting on the outrage hats and demanding answers from the PMO over this doesn't change the fact that it's a cookie.

It's stuff like this that honestly makes me wonder how people can take religion seriously. Cripes.

17 June 2009

Vacation

If anybody cares, I'll be going on vacation in a few days so there will be even fewer posts here than usual. Chances are you're already aware of this but two weeks in Kelowna. If any of the old university chums want to meet up, you know how to reach me via that Facebook thing.

11 June 2009

Just Saying

The NDP were elected here in Nova Scotia on Tuesday.

The sun has not shone in Halifax since.

09 June 2009

NDP Wins in Nova Scotia

Goodie.

Well, if nothing else, Nova Scotians are about to learn why the NDP, once elected, never gets re-elected after being booted out of office.

This British Columbian, though young during the days of Glen Clark and his merry band of misfits, remembers well what the economy was like when the NDP was finally turfed and replaced with Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals. If people here think things aren't so hot now, just wait a few years.

03 June 2009

A Familiar Face on TV

Saw this clip this morning on Canada AM featuring my old Dal colleague Chris Laroche. Not sure if he bothers to check out my little space here, but I thought it was pretty cool to see him on TV talking about North Korea and the succession to Kim Jong-Il.

Go here: http://www.ctv.ca/canadaam and click on the "Expert on North Korean succession" link on the video player.

Good job Laroche!

Epic Fail

Get ready for a new series of Conservative ads attacking Michael Ignatieff and his Canadianness today in order for Harper & co. to avoid having to utter a single word about this:

Canada is headed for a series of shocking federal deficits that will put the federal government more than $172 billion in the hole over the next five years, the TD Bank says in a new analysis

No, indeed the Conservatives will not want to talk about how it took them a matter of 3 years to set in motion the wheels that will completely flatten and wipe out the debt repayments that took place under the leadership of Jean Chretien and Paul Martin. A decade's worth of hard work and sacrifice has been undone by these incompetent fools.

But Michael Ignatieff spent 34 years outside of Canada, is an American who loves to torture terrorists in the name of propping up the Empire, only came back to Canada because he's arrogant and thus arrogantly believes he should be the Prime Minister, reads and writes books in which he says things, and prefers Coors Light over Molson Canadian.

Enjoy your tapes Mr. Harper, because soon that's all you're going to have left.

01 June 2009

Jacques Martin is the New Habs Coach

That part I might be able to deal with - after this past season, I'll take 50 "boring" wins if it can be done.

But the news of Mario Tremblay being speculated as an assistant coach?

27 May 2009

A New Captain K?

There was a report yesterday, initially dismissed given the source (Sovietsky Sport, the same folks that made up a bunch of false items about Alex Kovalev and his feelings on then-coach Guy Carbonneau) but which has picked up considerable steam in the past 24 hours. I saw it on the Sportsnet ticker last night just before going to bed and now I see it has reached the TSN site as well. In sum:
- Saku Koivu will not be offered a new contract
- Alex Kovalev will be offered a new deal worth between $6M and $7.5M and be made the next captain of the Montreal Canadiens
- Mike Komisarek was offered a multi-year deal at $4M per season, which he declined in the hopes of getting $6M per season.

Each of these news items is very weighty for Habs fans to consider.
Saku Koivu has been captain for 9 years, longer than anybody except for the great Jean Beliveau. He has spent his entire career in Montreal. He is both beloved and underappreciated by the city and its fans. While his skills have diminished in recent years, his production remains high and the leadership he brings to the team is unquestionable. It would be a very strange sight to see the 2009-10 season begin and Saku Koivu wearing another team's jersey.
Alex Kovalev can be loved and hated all on the same shift. He is a wizard with the puck, nobody questions that, but that wizardry has its limits and Kovy often tries to do too much with the puck. When he is on his game, he is amazing and can bring people out of their seats. He was the toast of the town on All-Star Weekend, and was sat out for two games only three weeks later. The dollar figure sounds high (especially the upper end) but he has proven, during Saku's occasional absences due to injury, that he can lead this team.
Mike Komisarek is one of the most popular players on the team and has been considered by many to be a future captain. He is a strong part of the team's young and emerging core, with his crushing bodychecks, sound defensive play, and willingness to get in the way of shots. But he does have limitations--he has very little offensive upside (Josh Gorges scored more than Komi did this year!) and he never seemed to recover from the beating that Milan Lucic gave him last fall. He's a very good player, but $6M is great player salary and would mean he makes more than Andrei Markov. Who is more valuable to the team? With Markov out, the Habs lost their last 8 games. With Komisarek out in mid-season, the team still survived and many guys stepped up to fill the void. They may have to do so on a permanent basis next season.

What's an Extra $10 Billion?

So it turns out that yesterday the numbers delivered to us regarding the Government of Canada's spending were in true Chretien-esque underdelivered fashion. It's not going to be a $40B deficit -- it's going to be a $50B deficit. Why?

[A] triple whammy of extra costs, including auto-sector bailouts, rising Employment Insurance claims and a drop-off in tax revenue.

Hmmm, a drop-off in tax revenue...drop off in tax revenue. Oh that's right, against the sound advice of numerous economists and the Liberals, the Conservatives felt it would be a wise idea to drop the GST by 2%. In their unceasing quest to do optical politics that look nice but actually cause great harm, the Tories cut Ottawa's revenue stream by billions of dollars so that a double-double at Tim Horton's would cost 3 pennies less. A few months ago, when it was projected that the Conservatives would only lead us into $80B of red ink over 5 years, it was calculated that their ill-advised tax cut actually took away pretty close to that exact amount. Obviously things have changed--for the worse--in the past few months, but all of a sudden those extra pennies look mighty useful come budget time don't they?

***Update***

And it looks as though people are getting the idea in their heads that the Tories' credibility deficit is the only thing that exceeds the fiscal deficit:

26 May 2009

The Rocket's Red Glare

There really are no words to describe how awesome this is and how much it will be treasured when it arrives:

A Record Of Distinction

My hat goes off to Stephen Harper and Jim Flaherty for their most remarkable achievement. They have done something that no government in the history of Canada has been able to do before. They've pirouetted past Trudeau, Irish eyes are smiling beyond Mulroney, governed like a majority better than Clark, fidgeted with budget numbers much more profoundly than Chretien or Martin could have imagined, and done more with a canal than anybody since Pearson.

Unfortunately for us, Canada, we're the ones drowning in a canal of red.

Not content with plunging Canadians back into deficit with their reckless and ill-advised tax cuts and rampant spending, Messrs. Harper and Flaherty have decided to elevate their game to a whole new level and boldly go where no Canadian government has ever gone before.

They're aiming to cross the 40 billion dollar deficit threshold. And according to Kevin Page, they may well do just that.

A $40-billion deficit would be record territory for Ottawa and an . . . achievement for the Harper government, which came into office eager to trim public spending.

That level of red ink would be a shade higher than the $39-billion shortfall racked up in 1992-93 under the Mulroney Tory government, which is currently the largest deficit on the federal Finance Department's historical record.


Good job, Steve! Gold medal for you!

22 May 2009

Hockey, Hockey, Hockey!

Yes there's been more hockey talk than politics stuff lately - it's playoff time!

Even without my Habs, the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year have been tremendous to watch. The games are almost always close, last night's 7-4 Pittsburgh win notwithstanding, and the crowds are incredibly into the action, making for a great atmosphere. The best players in the game are stepping it up and really demonstrating why they are the best players in the game. You really cannot ask for a whole lot more, except to wish that every series manages to go the full 7 games. I have doubts of that happening, as even though the games are close, the great teams (Detroit and Pittsburgh) are finding ways to win.

Speaking of great hockey, I have to give the reminder for everybody to check out the Memorial Cup this weekend. The semi-finals go tonight, with the OHL Champion Windsor Spitfires taking on the QMJHL Champion Drumondville Voltigeurs, with the winning team advancing to Sunday afternoon’s final against the WHL Champion Kelowna Rockets. These are the stars of tomorrow in action, and they are giving some real glimpses of what the future of the NHL will look like. In last night's third period, I swear Taylor Hall (the projected 1st overall pick in 2010) was on the ice almost the entire 20 minutes. I'm glad I've already got this little gem:



Of course I'm cheering mightily for my Rockets, and I hope that Jamie Benn continues his excellence in this tournament - a Kelowna win on Sunday all but guarantees he'll be the tournament MVP. They'll also need Mikael Backlund to step up his game, as he's been very quiet since the Rockets knocked off the Hitmen in the WHL Championship.

In all, it's going to be a great weekend of hockey!

20 May 2009

Halifax Pre-Season Game Announced

Two years ago we got Montreal v. Boston.

Last year we got Montreal v. Boston and Detroit v. Boston.

So what do we get this year?

Ottawa v. Florida

*crickets*






*more crickets*





Off the top of my head, I have a difficult time imagining a less interesting combination of teams. When you factor in that it's much earlier in training camp/pre-season than usual, this will be the B teams of Ottawa and Florida. Egads. I guess July 1st will have to be a deciding factor in whether or not to spend my money to attend this one, because neither of the current rosters are of appeal to me so it'll be up to whatever free agent signings the two teams make to push me in the direction of going.

19 May 2009

Go Rockets Go!

One of the handful of regrets in my life is that I passed up on the opportunity to go the Memorial Cup Finals in 2004 to see the Rockets win the championship. Sure the secondary market for tickets was 50-80 bucks but it would have been a real blast and much more interesting than watching the game on the old battered TV in the Marketplace lunchroom. I was down at Prospera Place (it was still Skyreach then, I think) all morning long doing some opening-day campaigning for Vern Neilsen, the Liberal candidate in the election, and there was a tremendous buzz in the air for the hometown favourites. Who could have known then that the core of that team, five years later, would be in the NHL and kicking ass on a nightly basis? Josh Gorges, Shea Weber and Blake Comeau are the three most well known, but Mike Card and Cam Paddock are now starting to crack their lineups as well. It was a thrilling game and a great moment for the city of Kelowna.

Well, five years later the Rockets are once again poised on the verge of championship greatness. With an incredible victory last night over Drumondville they've secured themselves a spot in the finals, thanks largely to the heroics of Jamie Benn, who notched 4 goals and an assist. The game was so riveting that I didn't even flip over to TSN for the NHL playoff game in progress. The team is absolutely on fire after taking out Kamloops, Tri-City, Vancouver, and Calgary in the WHL Playoffs, and it has certainly carried over to the biggest stage in major junior hockey in Canada.

GO ROCKETS GO!

15 May 2009

Deficit > $85B

"Our deficits will be large...as large as they have to be." -- Stephen Harper

No wonder the Conservatives would much rather talk about their tried-and-true canard about Michael Ignatieff being a Canadian of convenience. Much better to change the channel from the real world to the kids networks for the Tories these days.

13 May 2009

BC Election

Kitties aside, hats off to Gordon Campbell for winning his third straight election last night. Of all the candidates he was and remains far and away the most qualified party leader for the job, and the rank hypocrisy of the NDP and Carole James over the carbon tax was stomach-churning enough for many to realize that they're an opportunistic lot that will all-too-happily sacrifice long-treasured principles if they think it will make their numbers go up a couple percentage points. I've met Campbell only once, at the official announcement that OUC would become UBC-O, but he has long been a very impressive politician and the best premier BC has had in my lifetime.

You Spin Me Right 'Round, Baby, Right Round, Like a Record Player Baby...

Because everybody needs a good laugh every now and again:

05 May 2009

Michael Says What I've Been Saying All Along

From the Vancouver Province (btw - 47 days till I'm home again!) comes this little Q&A excerpt with Michael Ignatieff:

Q: What do you say to people who accuse you of being an imperialist, a right-winger? Some critics in the Toronto Star are saying you’re soft on torture and so on — how do you answer those people who question your liberal credentials?

A: Read my books, actually read them.

Q: For those who don’t have time to read the books?

A: But hey, that’s what I object to. I’ve had three years of people taking quotations out of context on the torture issue, and conveniently missing pages of A Lesser Evil, which say things like, "Democracies have to fight terror with one hand tied behind their back, and they win because they keep one hand tied behind their back." They never quote that, right? So all I’m asking is for people to treat me with the respect I hope I treat them. Am I an imperialist? Never, never. I’m a
Canadian!


I've been writing for months now that the value of actually reading a book can go a long way in getting to understand what Michael Ignatieff thinks about the issues of our time. Granted, it won't help the dunderheads who insist on parroting Tory smear points or the left-wing wackos that think of Ignatieff as an apologist for torture and American Empire, but for people who are fair and honest with themselves and their political expressions, reading his books is a great thing to do. It seems like such a simple request, but nothing easy is ever simple, which is why I'm glad that the Province actually came out and asked him flat-out about this straw man that people have created.

04 May 2009

Reflections on the Convention

There's any number of reasons I wish I was still in B.C. at this time: the Rockets are two wins away from clinching the WHL Championship, the local team is still in the playoffs (admittedly I've never been much of a Canucks fan), the weather, etc. But one reason in particular that I wish I was in B.C. right now is that it would have afforded me the opportunity to attend the Liberal Leadership Convention this past weekend. Though largely a coronation, these things are fun. I had a blast in Toronto in 2003 and I'm sure that this one would have been as well.

I didn't watch much of the convention on TV because they don't play out as well for the cameras and the weather was half-decent this weekend. I did get to catch Ignatieff's acceptance speech and I found it to be exactly the type of speech that needed to be delivered. The new leader excoriated the failures of the Harper regime without getting into the mud and he proposed an alternative vision based on the core liberal values that have made Canada the success story that it is and continues to be. It wasn't a typical politician's speech because Michael Ignatieff is anything but a typical politician. We need more of that in this country.

Another item that passed with much fanfare was the approval of the one member, one vote policy that allows all members of the Liberal Party of Canada to express themselves and their preference for the party leadership. Having 3,000 of your closest delegated friends in red in one hall is a cool experience but it does shut out the overwhelming majority of the party membership from the actual process. You could find nary a Sheila Copps supporter at the 2003 convention because the process was so heavily weighted in favour of Paul Martin - though the 94% approval he received in Toronto was an incredible sight, was it an accurate reading of his overall support from the party? Difficult to say, but not something that will be encountered in the future.

In the end, the weekend was a great success for the party. Now begins the march towards increasing the party's support throughout the country.

17 April 2009

Think Big, Says Our Big Thinker

This is the type of thing that makes me proud to be a liberal and a Liberal. We dream big, we think big, we think about the things that unite and bond us as Canadians, and we're not afraid to "go there" and muse about things that can further unite and bind us. This is why I've long supported Michael Ignatieff and believed that he would be an excellent leader of the Liberal Party and a great Prime Minister of Canada.

Michael Ignatieff has 'big' vision for Canada

Compare and contrast the ideas discussed here with building firewalls around Alberta, decentralizing political power in Canada, and the belief that all government should do to help people is kill off Toronto's Canada Goose population and feed them to the poor.

02 April 2009

A Tipping Point

Like many, I am outraged upon reading the news that Afghanistan is in the process of passing a law that legalizes rape within marriage. The legislation is vile and repugnant on many levels. It is an affront to human dignity. It makes a mockery out of the idea that the future of Afghanistan could be one of a hopeful democracy that included equality for women. It spits in the face of every country that has participated in the country's reconstruction and rehabilitation from the days of the Taliban regime. It calls into question the most central reasoning for Canada's presence there. I have long said that Afghanistan is worth fighting for, because I believe that everybody, everywhere, is entitled to those basic rights of life, liberty, equality, and the security of the person. That we have fought and seen our young men die trying to keep the Taliban--a regime that was the most repressive of women's rights anywhere in the world--out of power, only to see the government of Karzai impose the same repression on women...it is disheartening beyond words.

30 March 2009

GritGirl Strikes Again!

On the subject of credibility deficits, it's amazing to see CanWest lining up for its turn at the trough, with Harper leading them, while this is happening:

The Prime Minister's Credibility Deficit

While it is expected of a Prime Minister to act as head cheerleader for his country and its economy, there is the very real risk of becoming, to use the sports term, a "homer" that does so lacking credibility and not letting the little details that some people refer to as "facts" get in the way.

From's today's Globe and Mail:
"The concern is that if we're not careful, these deficits will become permanent, and then they'll demand higher taxes," Mr. Harper said. "As you know, we aim to avoid that. We're very clear: spending will be time-limited. This government will not raise taxes, and we've been very clear on that."

A nice thing to say, to be sure. But it sounds oddly familiar. A quote from the Calgary Herald ran on November 25, 2008:

"We're not running a deficit. We have planned a realistic scenario. We've got conservative budget estimates. We've got a modest platform that doesn't even fill the existing fiscal room that we have and we have plenty of flexibility in how we phase it. So that's our policy. We're not going into deficit."

Brace yourselves, Canadians, tax increases are coming in order to offset this government's fiscal incompetence. It may be income tax increases. It may be a reversal of their ill-conceived GST cut. It may be other new taxes. It even be all of the above. But they are coming.

26 March 2009

The Number Just Keeps Growing

It seems that every couple of weeks we get more bad news regarding the Conservatives' mismanagement and misinformation regarding the Canadian economy. First it was no deficit ever, then it was $85 billion of deficit spending, then it jumped again to $103 billion. Today, parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page says that it's going to be even bigger:

He predicted 385,000 jobs will be lost before July and that economic output, by some measures, will be in worse shape than the 1980s or 1990s recessions.

The grimmer forecast will mean a squeeze on tax revenues. Mr. Page told MPs that his office estimates Ottawa's deficit will hit $38-billion for the 2009-10 fiscal year beginning April 1, instead of $33.7-billion as the Tories projected in the Jan. 27 budget. That's only $1-billion short of the record $39-billion deficit racked up by the Mulroney government in 1992-1993.

Mr. Page's office also said it expects the 2010-11 deficit will hit $35-billion instead of $29.8-billion as Ottawa forecast.


I have officially lost count of how many billions of reasons we have to replace Stephen Harper. One hundred and three billion seemed more than ample, but now we're getting even more. He MUST go!

Not only is the incompetence running high, so too is the out of touch rating:

Conservative MP Mike Wallace said Mr. Page shouldn't have jumped to that conclusion and urged more focus on good news. “I believe part of the issue facing Canada and the world is we need some of the positive stuff. And when the positive stuff does come out it tends to get discounted immediately,” he said.

“I myself purchased two cars these past two weeks. I am doing my share. I think there's some good news stories. It's not great news, don't get me wrong.”


While I'm so happy for Mr. Wallace's purchases, there are tens of thousands of Canadians who do not enjoy his job security (for now!) and his MP salary. What an utterly insensitive comment to make at a time when the EI lineups are stretching around the block. Somehow I doubt that Mr. Wallace is part of that Tim Horton's crowd that the Prime Minister tries fancy himself with.

New Grit Girl Video

I read about the new Tory "plan" to control the Canada Goose population. These folks really are losing it, and Grit Girl is hitting them hard again:

25 March 2009

Some Blazing Guns Good, Others Bad

First, the good: it was great to see Alex Tanguay, Alex Kovalev, and Saku Koivu light up the Thrashers last night. All guns were blazing and Carey Price put a little mustard on a stop on Kovalchuk. A great night, and hopefully a turning point.

Now, the not-so-good: in an attempt to demonstrate that he is still somebody that caters to his narrow base rather than govern in the best interests and safety of the country, Stephen Harper is throwing his weight behind a private member's bill to abolish the gun registry. It is a reminder to the rest of the country that for all their talk about being tough on crime, the Conservatives want to de-regulate gun control in this country and make it easier for people to arm themselves, including people who should never have access to a gun. I'm generally not a fan of the "junior Republican" line from the Liberal playbook, but that's exactly what this is. Despite major police organizations saying that the registry has been a helpful and valuable tool in cracking down on gun crime, despite calls by many citizens groups to do more to keep guns off the streets, and despite the fact that a long gun is just as deadly as a semi-automatic, the right-wing, right-to-bear-arms ideology of this party wants to remove restrictions on gun ownership.
They say that legitimate hunters who have to register their rifles feel demonized. I don't speak for everybody, but one or two legitimate hunters I know (i.e. my father and uncle) both registered their weapons almost immediately after the law came into effect. I even went with my dad when he got his done. He didn't feel as though he were being made a pariah of some sort, he didn't care much for the paperwork but it was done swiftly and efficiently. Any responsible gun owner has nothing to fear from regulation of gun ownership, nor should they feel as though they're social outcasts. You have to have a license to drive a vehicle, a separate license to drive a 50' truck, a license to practice nursing, and on and on. The legislation is in place to ensure that people who demonstrate responsibility and deserve to own a gun are able to do so.
But most criminals don't register their guns, they say. This is true. It's just one more item on the charges against them when they arrested for committing a crime. But isn't it better, to use the Rumsfeld vernacular, to have the list of known knowns be longer than list of unknown unknowns? I would much rather we have a detailed catalogue of people we know who own guns and what type of guns than have to be concerned about the large numbers people who we don't know have guns and what type of guns. People who commit gun crimes are going to do so regardless of whether or not they register a weapon - nobody in this country has committed a gun crime due to the status of the gun registry; they have done so for a plethora of other reasons, from Marc Lepine to James Roszko.
Conservatives need to do some damage control right now. They have horribly bungled the finances of this country. After vowing to never go into deficit in November, they are now on the hook for wiping out the last 10 years of debt repayments due to their irreponsible mismanagement. So they bring out their tired dead horses to flog some more for the amusement of their base, to get the rah-rah gun crowd that supports them motivated and believing for just a moment that Stephen Harper is one of them. It's a distraction. The bill will be defeated by the Liberals, the Bloc, and the NDP. But it will get Conservatives riled up that they're being suppressed by a passive-aggressive permissive group of namby-pambies that want to make small c-conservatives feel bad about their lifestyles. It will have them forget that Stephen Harper's crew abdicated any sense of fiscal conservative ideology, and have them screaming that Harper needs a majority to get his agenda passed unhindered by liberal/Liberal dogma about guns, the right to choose, gay marriage, tolerance, free speech etc.

Luckily, most Canadians are smart enough to realize this Harper ploy for being exactly just that. Our eyes will not be taken off the ball that they let the air out of with their political games and poor decisions about the economy.

17 March 2009

And All That Should Have Been

A very disturbing fact about my beloved Montreal Canadiens: we have left 33 points on the table against non-playoff teams and the team currently sitting in 8th (Carolina). The list of losses to bottom-feeders: Anaheim, Atlanta twice, Buffalo twice, Carolina twice plus an OTL, Edmonton, Florida, Minnesota, 2 OTL's against the Islanders, Tampa twice, and the Leafs twice.

Great teams beat bad teams more often than not. When you look at some of those names of teams that have defeated the Habs, it is clear that we are not a great team this year. Even if we were just a very good team, and had taken half of those points, we'd be battling with the Bruins for Eastern supremacy. As it stands, we're focused more on staying ahead of teams 9, 10, and 11 than keeping pace with the Flyers for fourth. I'm an optimist and I like to look up.

With our remaining calendar, on paper it should be easy to get to 4th. But the game isn't played on paper, as our record sorely indicates.

Inaction in Action

One of the better spoof sites I've seen in recent memory:

http://www.inactionplan.ca/index.html

The line that just about had me blow water through my nose:

"Faced with certain economic collapse and a series of unpopular confidence motions, Stephen Harper took Real Action. In a ten vehicle SUV convoy, the Prime Minister drove 17 feet across the street to the Governer Generals mansion to ask for an election."

16 March 2009

Don't Worry, Mr. Harper, We Won't

Last week, in a speech closed off to the media and delivered to his core crowd of supporters, Stephen Harper told his friends to not "forget that Conservatives being in power has made an enormous difference."

It is a message that I'm sure many of his opponents take to heart as well. Let's look at how some things in this country have changed thanks to the time that Stephen Harper and his coterie have been in power.

In 2005, the Paul Martin Liberals ran a budgetary surplus forecasted to be in the neighbourhood of $4B, which turned out to be $13B.
In 2009, the Stephen Harper Conservatives announced that the federal deficit over the next five years will be $85B.
***Update: the Globe and Mail reports that there will be an additional $18B in deficit over the next two years on top of what this government has already done, driving the total to over $100B over 5 years.***

In 2005, Canada's job creation levels were strong and the unemployment rate hit record lows of 6.6% in October of that year.
In 2009, forecasters are predicting that unemployment will hit 10% next year.

In 2005, the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan had the full support of the Liberal Party and were implementing a successful 3D strategy.
In 2009, Stephen Harper said that Canada and its allies will never defeat the Taliban.

In 2005, the Paul Martin Liberals passed an historic accord in Kelowna for Canada's First Nations peoples.
In 2009, Stephen Harper has left that plan in tatters.

In 2005, the Paul Martin Liberals introduced a New Deal for Cities that would give the urban powerhouses of Canada a greater role.
In 2009, Stephen Harper and his supporters regularly decry Canada's cities as Liberal havens and treat them with derision.

Don't worry, Mr. Harper, Canadians are fully aware of the difference that your party has made for this country.

03 March 2009

The Will to Fight

I just don't understand Stephen Harper anymore. He's already sacrificed ideological consistency on the economy in order to prolong the survival of his government by a few extra months. He's decimated Canada's fiscal prosperity via cheap parlour tricks and ramped up spending while cutting revenues. And now, he's taken a page from Jack Layton's playbook on the war on terror & tyranny.

"We are not going to ever defeat the insurgency." - Stephen Harper

"It's an endless mission. There's no end in sight. We say it's a dead end. No one has laid out, anywhere, that it's possible to ultimately win a war in this region.
No one. And historical experience shows that it's been impossible – whether it be Alexander the Great, the British in the 19th century, or the Russians in the 20th century." - Jack Layton

It's interesting to note that last year Layton was worried Stephane Dion would drift towards Stephen Harper when it come to a position on Afghanistan. Now, instead we see Stephen Harper drifting towards Jack Layton. One more nail in this government's coffin.

Victory in Afghanistan is not an impossible objective. It is not an unwinnable war. However, it has been a poorly managed conflict in which the other two D's--diplomacy and development--have taken a back seat to the defence aspect. The Taliban can certainly be relegated to defeat; because they have not, it is a fallacy to assume that they will not. A strong, forward military movement against them, in tandem with soft power objectives that give Afghans a clear vision of what the future can offer without them and that align Afghanistan's neighbours against the Taliban, will be victorious. Our leaders have for too long been treating Afghanistan as a back-burner agenda item and allowed the Taliban to fester. With the United States now renewing its focus towards Kabul, the time is nigh for NATO allies, particularly Canada, to do the same and take all necessary steps to defeat the insurgency and compel them to give up their arms in defeat.

02 March 2009

The Ends Don't Justify the Means

An H/T to Devin Maxwell for posting about Dan Leger's column in today's Herald. I am simply appalled by something he had written in it.

It wouldn’t be so bad if all the abuse and torture actually worked. But despite seven years of torture, "extraordinary rendition," secret arrests, extra-legal murder, kidnapping and abuse of human rights, bin Laden is still on the loose.

While we all hope that bin Laden and his gang of murderous accomplices will be found and brought to trial, we must also ensure that democratic states don’t destroy their values in the process. The rule of law can’t be allowed to become collateral damage in the never-ending war on terror.


I threw up a little bit in my mouth at the suggestion that if only we'd caught bin Laden by now, all of the unsavoury and illegal actions committed by liberal democracies in the name of the war on terror and tyranny "wouldn't be so bad." I generally agree with what Mr. Leger is attempting to say--that as a liberal democracy we must never lose sight of the values and principles that have helped make our societies some of the most successful in the world's history. As Michael Ignatieff has so astutely said, "We cannot torture...because of who we are." Some would argue that the ends justify the means; I disagree with them. The practice of waterboarding, the vile events which transpired at Abu Ghraib, and others have undermined who we are and what our guiding message has been to the people of the world living under the shadow of terror and tyranny: our system of government offers you a better way of life. When the people of Afghanistan or Iraq cannot see a distinction between the practices of bad old regimes and the nominally better ones, they have little impetus to want to fight to ensure the survival of the new regime. As liberal democracies, we are obligated to "fight with one hand behind our backs," so to speak. For while we must overcome the enemies of freedom when we fight, we must not do so in such a brutal fashion that we alienate those whom we seek to win over.
Capturing Osama bin Laden is of paramount importance in terms of the symbolism involved. But if his capture were a direct consequence of the torture of one of his accomplices, it would be tainted. Our moral high ground would be undercut. It would be viewed as one bad egg capturing another bad egg--both would stink. I do not believe that we should have to sacrifice our values and beliefs to capture him. The endgame simply would not be justified by those means.

Second Place is the First Loser

Happy March everybody!

News today (actually I first heard about it last night) that the Liberals will break from Stephane Dion's poor decision to not field a candidate in Central Nova. You'll recall that Dion wanted to help out the leader of the Green Party--which has fielded candidates who find common cause with Al Qaeda--by not running a candidate in the riding held by Peter Mackay. Elizabeth May promptly lost that election, and the Dion-led Liberals looked so much the worse for supporting her. Now, with a leader who understands that the Liberal Party is a national party that must run everywhere nationally, the Liberals have turned that corner.

But May will persist. She reckons that if she can come in second in a three horse race, somehow she'll do better in a four-horse race. Never mind that a large portion of the Liberal vote in Central Nova went to her as she was the de facto candidate for them, a luxury she won't enjoy this time, right? She also figures that not winning an election race is a "high-water mark for Green parties anywhere in the world." I beg to differ. Joschka Fischer was Foreign Minister of Germany for seven years, the leader of the Germany's Green Party and vice-chancellor in the Bundestag. I would put forward the argument that Fischer's political career vastly outshines that of May, her delusions of grandeur notwithstanding.

Her moment in the sun has come and gone. If she decides to go ahead and run in Central Nova again next time out, she'll be longing for the days when she could, in true Canadian fashion, at least claim that she was a strong second place and that's pretty gosh-darn good and is its own reward.

26 February 2009

Take a Hike!

This is one of the more bizarre things I've read about recently: citing a belief that "many Canadians can afford to pay more" for university, an education think tank thinks that this is a good time to jack up tuition fees by an extra 25% to offset any potential losses universities may take in the coming years. The economic downturn is going to affect their grants and subsidies from governments in a negative fashion (given the current government's anti-intellectual proclivities, these universities, the Grinch said, will be the first things to go), so as always, to offset the difference must be made up by those with the least ability to pay for it.
Now, I'm sure that there are indeed many young Canadians who have rich mommies and daddies that can afford to put them through university. But there are plenty more in the situation that I was in, where they had to work evening & weekend jobs, make some serious sacrifices, eat a lot of Kraft Dinner, rely on a lot of goodwill from their families, apply for every scholarship and bursary under the sun, and assume a significant debt load in order to finance their post-secondary education. I am no fan of the CFS, but their student debt clock is running well past the $13B mark, and its climbing non-stop.
And now this group is recommending that the universities force kids to pay a whole lot more. That is not fair. That is not right. At a time when the government is running up huge deficits that this generation will have to repay, putting an addition personal debt burden on them makes the work twice as hard. If anything, government should be taking steps to ensure that university costs remain low so that the inventors, creators, business and political leaders, and thinkers of tomorrow can emerge into the workforce without a substantial debt load of their own so that the fruits of their labour go towards a strong Canadian economy and not a government loan repayment.

25 February 2009

Iraq Withdrawal Scheduled

With levels of terrorist violence across Iraq down in the wake of the successful troop surge, the Obama Administration is announcing today that the timetable for withdrawal from the country will be completed within 18 months. I'm not a big fan of one-word quotes from top military officials, but when the level of violence is Anbar province--scene of some of the most intense and brutal acts of violence since the transition from Saddam Hussein towards a democratic Iraq--can be categorized as almost "meaningless," it is a sign that genuine progress has been made in the country.
There have been incredibly trying times in Iraq since 2003. Many thousands of innocent people have lost their lives, terrorist activities held large swaths of the country hostage to fear and intimidation, basic human services have been spotty, and the creation of a new state apparatus has been very difficult. Yet the perserverence of the country's people coupled with the military and political gains in the past couple years, has put Iraq in a position to be successful. There are still many who would have preferred that Saddam Hussein remain in power; these people are wrong. Iraq today is better off than it was in February 2003, and it will continue to improve and inspire.

20 February 2009

Like many of my fellow die-hard Habs fans I was up way past my bedtime in anticipation of the news of some serious issues involving the young players on the team, fearing the absolute worst. I gave up at around 1:30am here in Halifax, knowing full well that Nebs would wake me up at 5am for breakfast and could check it then. I won't say what I was fearing I'd see this morning, but I will say that the news ranks for more on the level of Jose Theodore being associated with the HA than the Kobe Bryant bombshell. It's unsavoury, it's greasy, you don't want to see it, but it's much more of a distraction than something that will rock the foundation of the Montreal Canadiens organization.

17 February 2009

Free Speech for the Dumb

Word today that a "group of prominent Canadian actors" *chuckle* including the guy that's apparently Canadian from Whose Line Is It Anyway?, a show I watch once in a blue moon, and someone on Degrassi: The Next Generation, a show that I have never watched, are stepping up to put pressure on the CRTC to regulate Internet content to ensure that good Canadians do their patriotic duty by watching Canadian programming online. Egads. It's not enough that we have mediocre music enforced upon us on the radio, I guess (one of a plethora of reasons I haven't listened to commercial radio in years), but now we need to follow China's lead and make sure that Canadians only watch online what they should be watching.

I believe in merit deciding what people will watch. If a program is good, I will watch it. If it is not good, I will not watch it. I do not care if the program is made in Toronto or Hollywood, I only care about its quality. CanCon is an artificial means to prop up mediocrity; it's why we've been subjected to so many truly bad artists over the years that can't get arrested in the United States. The idea of the regulation extending to the Internet is not a good one.

What would they do about this? Would they attempt to bury it like they did one of his albums? This is Canadian content, but CanCon rules would have it buried as "foreign programming."

16 February 2009

What to Do With All Those Free Agents

I don't have much on the brain politics-wise this past week, as I'm fully consumed with the downward spiral of my beloved Habs. There have been two hideous losses, an equally hideous win, and a loss last night that--were I still in BC--would have me on the receiving end of much mockery from pals. A lot of talk lately has surrounded the impending free agents in Montreal and whether that status is affecting their play. Difficult to say for sure, but if I were Mr. Gainey, this is what I'd be looking at doing this off-season...of course, a trade or two in the interim would throw all of this completely out of whack, but it may even be welcomed in one or two cases. Here we go...

UFAs
Alex Tanguay - definitely make a pitch to re-sign him; he was playing quite well before the injury and deserves another go 'round. May have to take a bit of a pay cut but offset that with a decent term.
Saku Koivu - I can't see Saku retiring, and the idea of him elsewhere doesn't sit right. Definitely bring him back.
Alex Kovalev - don't let the door hit you on the way out . . . or, a one-year contract since he's got that one good year, one terrible year mojo?
Robert Lang - this all depends on how well he recovers from that devastating injury. Lang was excellent for us, and if he can come back 100% I say give him a nice one-year deal.
Francis Bouillon - good solid D-man, but not part of the future.
Tom Kostopoulos - gotta admire Tom the Bomb's heart and grit. If the rest of the team had half the sandpaper as TK, we'd be in much better shape.
Mike Komisarek - he's playing himself out of a couple extra million bucks per season, but definitely should be top priority this off-season as far as re-signing personnel.
Steve Begin - a good heart and grit guy, but not part of the future.
Patrice Brisebois - he's been among the most solid guys back there lately, but I think he'll likely retire and join the ranks of the ambassadors.
Mathieu Dandenault - a pleasant surprise since he returned, Dandy's still got the wheels and hands, but would re-signing him take away a roster spot from a deserving up-and-comer? Or would it be used to challenge said up-and-comer?

RFAs
Christopher Higgins - he'll be re-signed and continue to be the subject of every Montreal-related trade rumour for years to come. I really like Higgins, lots of great upside and a great attitude and emerging leader.
Tomas Plekanec - much like the Komisaurus, he's playing his way out of a few extra bucks...but unless he gets his game in gear he may be allowed to walk.
Guillaume Latendresse - in just his third year, Gui! has blossomed after finding the right combination with Max Lapierre. The two play very well together. Lats will be back and continue to be the whipping boy and scapegoat for countless Habs fans that have never played the game.
Kyle Chipchura - I like Chips, but he's been overtaken on the organization's depth chart (Lapierre) and hasn't been able to make the most of the opportunities he's been given. They haven't been shining opportunities, but my guess is that he'll be allowed to walk.
Matt D'Agostini - breakout rookie campaign for D'Ags. The production has slowed down a bit since the initial call-up, but he works hard down low, competes, and doesn't do any of the floating that has become common among some players.

05 February 2009

Kevin Page = Stephen Harper's Sheila Fraser

Just as Paul Martin had the Auditor General Sheila Fraser to continually be the bearer of bad news that ultimately destroyed his leadership, it seems that Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page is going to do the same for Stephen Harper. After months of Harper misleading the country about its finances, promising no deficits, ever, while spending gleefully into the red, Page is becoming an increasingly visible figure for calling out the government for its rose-coloured portraits of the economy.
Today, Page warns that the Conservative pledge to get us back into the black by 2013-14 may not be all that likely, and that a structural deficit may arise unless the Tories take significant steps to curb spending. The $85B hole that this government is planning to dig may be too deep for us to climb out of within the next five years (cue the Simpsons line: "No, no, dig up, stupid!") and that the debt servicing and program spending will leave us in a position where we automatically find ourselves in deficit.
There is an emerging contrast between the Liberal governments of the 1990s and Stephen Harper's government: whereas the Liberals always ran on worst-case scenarios when presenting the budget, the Conservatives seemingly always run on the best forecasts available. When Chretien & Martin pledged to hit a certain target in cutting the deficit, they would invariably end up exceeding that target and getting back into the black sooner than expected and bringing in huge surpluses. They had a built-in contingency fund in the budget to ensure manoeuverability (sp?), a feature that the current government has eliminated as it continues to try selling Canadians the best picture possible without any regard for potential negative impacts on the economy.

I'm currently reading Paul Martin's memoirs. In a number of places he made some rather dire forecasts regarding Canada's economy and the Conservative government. It should not be all-too-surprising that those forecasts are indeed being realized.

***Update***

Not only is Mr. Page sounding off on the government's rosy projections, now we get other MPs finding holes in Mr. Flaherty's accounting. It goes back to what I was saying about rosy projections--the continual over-selling will come back to bite these guys sooner rather than later.

02 February 2009

WHAT!?!?!?!

How on Earth can they possibly say this?

"It recalls, for example, the Liberal leader's onetime support of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and his public defence of torture."

I would implore the Canadian Press, CTV, and any other news outlet running this story to provide an example of Michael Ignatieff defending the practice of torture in public, in print, or anywhere else. Because they will not find one.

I will update this later today when I have access to my copy of The Lesser Evil so that I can provide an absolutely definitive quote in which Michael Ignatieff denounces torture as a practice.

In the meantime, I am contacting the Liberal HQ as well as the Canadian Press about this vile portrayal of the Liberal leader.

***Update***

I will still get that book quote later, but this is how Ignatieff concludes his April 2006 essay in "If Torture Works," published in the UK journal Prospect:

We cannot torture, in other words, because of who we are. This is the best I can do, but those of us who believe this had better admit that many of our fellow citizens are bound to disagree. It is in the nature of democracy itself that fellow citizens will define their identity in ways that privilege security over liberty and thus reluctantly endorse torture in their name. If we are against torture, we are committed to arguing with our fellow citizens, not treating those who defend torture as moral monsters. Those of us who oppose torture should also be honest enough to admit that we may have to pay a price for our own convictions.

***Update 2***

Page 143, The Lesser Evil:
"The same premise is true of Saddam Hussein's Iraq or Burma or North Korea. For these societies, the practice of torture is definitional to their very identity as forms of state power. This idea helps us to see why torture should remain anethema to a liberal democracy and should never be regulated, countenanced, or covertly accepted in a war on terror. For torture, when committied by a state, expresses the state's ultimate view that human beingsa are expendable. This view is antithetical to the spirit of any constitutional democracy wholse raison d'etre is the control of violence and coercion in the name of human dignity and freedom."