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:


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.