Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Mulroney, Schreiber, Big Oil, and Shrub's Illegal Election Financing

Someone has undoubtedly posted the write-up by David Orchard... You know the one from his website (here), where he points out links between Big Oil and PM Harper's campaign funding?

So where has the national media been on this story??? If someone as forthright, connected, and aware as Al Gore makes such a serious claim about a sitting PM's campaign financing, surely the media would push the story? Surely the RCMP would investigate? When is was our turn in the spotlight, a handful of Conservative/Reform backbenchers made it their full-time occupation to search for corruption - even where it did not exist. Surely we can be half as tenacious?

Living in Alberta, it is hard - nay, impossible - to see how Big Oil was not behind Harper's success. We are aware of oil company employees canvassing for Harper's New Bleau in the past two campaigns. We don't know a single oil company employee - including foreign citizens - who were not lining up to harp on Harper's "good points".

Which companies were contributors to Harper's campaigns? His leadership? The last election? How did they directly or indirectly channel money and other support to the Harper Conservatives?

We may feel we're in an age past the time where big money could influence election campaigns. Canadians may want to think again. How do you account for the $150K/yr oil exec who miraculously finds himself with a couple of weeks of "bonus" holidays during the election? How do we keep in check the conservative-owned media (Can-West/Global, Quebecor, Fox "News" North of the border it belongs in, etc.)?

The fact remains that while organizations such as unions (which may represent the "common man" from time to time), and even the Canadian Taxpayer's Federation (when they're not fronting foreign business interests, and proporting to represent the "tax-paying little guy") have had to restrict their electioneering activities, some of the world's largest corporations have been running roughshod over our election clean-up efforts.

While a relatively small and frugal organization like a union local - or the CTF - may not be able to influence the handful of folks they may have reached, corporate giants like the Aussie owned Fox News, BP-Amoco, Shell, et al. have been able to exert an unjustified amount of pressure on our system. "Scientific experts" (I use both terms loosely), bought and paid for by Big Oil were critical in this election in twisting the decisions of voters on key issues such as Kyoto - so much so, that voters were "doubting the science" (an oxymoronic expression that seems to be overused nowadays).

Every day Canadians are being deluged by news stories from South of the border - or stories run on Canadian news networks that are completely sourced from the US. Add to this the hawkish, neo-con bent of so much of the Canadian press (might is right, and it's good to be a "tough guy" vs. a "wimp"), and we can quickly see where someone like Stephen Harper can eke into a minority victory (C'mon... this guy hadn't even left the country before being elected - and then only left at taxpayer's expense, riding along with then-PM Cretien).

We need to get after the neo-Cons before they make some fundamental changes to the Canada we know and love. Time to start treating this shrub like the weed it really is. Let's start with an investigation into Harper's campaign finances...

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Shrub Goes After Minorities

So it didn't take very long for Shrub to go after one of the old Reform Party's favorite targets: immigrants. While he made a minor promise using unrealized tax dollars (the lowering of the landing fees), he immediately showed immigrants and minorities what they really mean to this middle-aged, white-male-dominated government...

Among Harper's first neo-Con moves was to kill the Multiculturalism Ministry. This "good 'ol boy" move is an insult to immigrants and other minorities. One of his early next moves was to reduce immigration numbers. Thanks to the war he's running with the press gallery little of this is actually being given much attention.

10 years ago we vividly recall the very same Western MPs who now sit as Conservatives in Ottawa attack the very idea of multiculturalism - as well as taking pot-shots at Sikh's turbans (in the RCMP), First Nations, and Quebec. Back then, these very same individuals were sitting as Reform MPs. The public needs to realize they haven't changed.

As Liberals, it is crucial for our party to address the needs of some of our most loyal supporters. For many years recently, we've almost taken these groups for granted. New Canadians have been a stalwart of our support, and a big reason for our strong showing in urban areas. Recently, Harper has been making some overtures to these groups - often targeting "hot button" causes that are agreeable to Conservatives.

To reinstill minority group confidence in our party, we need to be very vocal about the Conservative dismantling of the Multiculturalism Ministry and reducing immigration numbers. Some of our leadership hopefulls have voiced strong support for multiculturalism - including strong supporting facts about the side-benefits of increased success in foreign trade, etc. Michael Ignatieff recently delivered a strong speech in Calgary focused on the value of multiculturalism - especially with the recent emergence of countries like India and China as world economic powers. We need to ensure our party continues to speak loudly for multiculturalism. If we don't, we'll start to see our urban numbers decline...

Sunday, May 21, 2006

WesternGrit Seeks Out True National Leaders...

I had the opportunity to meet Gerard Kennedy and his sisters in Edmonton a few weeks ago. Seemed like a nice guy. His youth appealed to me. So did the zeal of his entourage. I listened to him speak, and had the opportunity to ask him (and other leadership contenders) several questions (the LPCA AGM was a very good opportunity for delegates-to-be to speak with leadership hopefuls).

I was hoping to hear Mr. Kennedy speak in our 2nd national language. I feel that a Prime Minister must have impeccable skill in speaking BOTH national languages. This is even more important for a Liberal PM. I hear that Gerard is going to Quebec for a couple of months this summer "to meet the people". I would like someone - anyone informed - to tell me if he is going to Quebec to improve his French skills... Anyone?

I will not support a leadership candidate who is not fluent in both our national languages. So far I understand that Dryden, Dion, Ignatieff, and Brison are all fluent (please forgive me if I've missed anyone). I like things that each of these candidates present. I must also say that Gerard seems like a decent guy... I just need to know if he speaks immaculate "Quebec French" to have him count on my "French speaking candidates" list.

So... someone... anyone... please let me know...

Friday, May 19, 2006

Was Iggy Right - Even If He Was Wrong???

I've been mulling about Michael Ignatieff's vote on the Afghanistan issue. Here's my thoughts: I think that it is a good move. Why? Because we are Liberals - and the last thing we want to do is take on hawks in a debate on going to war. If anyone can justify a war, it's a hawk. Especially the new breed of "chicken-hawk" supported by massive American media support. If we can put this issue aside, we can focus on lambasting Harper on childcare (and the lack of a neo-CanCon plan for this), removing tax cuts for low income earners, the environment, cuts to immigration numbers, etc.

Iggy's tactics may be very beneficial. Here's how "Joe Public" would see this: Harper is talking about extending a Liberal initiated foray into Afghanistan. The Libs underfunded the army, and didn't even care to buy adequate uniforms for the army. Stevie seems to support the troops - a lot. He knows the army. Supporting the troops is good. I think I'll support the war.

No average Joe is going to think about the original intention of the exercise. No average Joe is going to really think about what "supporting" our troops means - unless we do a better PR job. Most "average Joes" don't know the difference between the UN and NATO.

So... what does this mean for us Liberals? Nothing. Let's drop the whole Afghanistan thing for now. We benefit from making it a non-issue. If things blow up later, our new leader can always say, "I supported/didn't support the war, but my party voted 2/3 against it - so we are not going to support further action". Let's ensure that we attack the Neo-CanCons at their achilles heel - childcare, environment, gun control, First Nations issues, public healthcare, immigration and multiculturalism. Arguing about war with a "chicken-hawk" in this current environment is not a good thing. Look what happened to the Democrats in the US. Even though we oppose the military action in Afghanistan because we support humanitarian missions like Darfur, or because we love our troops so much we don't want them to die - even then, we would lose the argument if we make ourselves look like we support the terrorists/freedom fighters, or whatever you would want to call them.

I'm not saying we change our Canadian identity... No way. We should continue to be a sovereign nation, and have a liberal world-view. We just need to keep this issue on the back burner, as we can lose traction with it. Let's focus on stuff that's more important to "Joe Average" right now.