Monday, March 31, 2008

Canadian Economic Hegemony In North America... It's Not A Dream

Of the three North American "powers" (the US, Canada, and Mexico) one can argue - with good reason - that Canada is economically the strongest, is richest in raw resources, and has the best infrastructure to support continued economic growth...

The United States - I've argued in past blogposts - is in a state of "post-colonial decline" similar to what the United Kingdom experienced in the 50s and 60s. Leaders of the US are mortgaging the nation's future on low taxes. This is meant to do two things: 1) win votes and 2) as an incentive for economic growth, encouraging investment in the American economy... On the first count the neoCons are probably doing alright. It's easy to win votes by promising less taxes. The problem is that there is a lack of economic education among the voting population. There is a mistaken belief that less taxes are better for you. Sure, if you're independently wealthy you don't mind a "user-fee environment"... but, for the average Joe, the dollars you spend on taxes, combined with the taxes of millions of others, go a LONG WAY in building infrastructure and providing much-needed services. It's a concept the right just doesn't get. Personal and corporate greed surpasses reason.

On the second count - lower taxes to "stimulate the economy" - the right is completely wrong. Particularly in America's case. Lower taxes certainly help individual consumers - for a bit. They even help fuel investment binges like the real estate "bubble". The dark side of lower taxes is the purging of government coffers by "small government" zealots who dismantle much of the government and national infrastructure systems in the slim hope that "private enterprise" will replace it (don't mention "profit motive" to these folks). The results in the US speak for themselves: Low interest rates caused the housing "boom" and eventual "bubble". Infrastructure suffers - or doesn't exist. No medicare. An appallingly high percentage of Americans have no health insurance. They pay cash to see a doctor or visit a hospital (up front please).

America has another problem that the unrestricted tax cuts can't compete with - or prevent. That is the outsourcing of everything from America. Why would anyone set up a factory or branch plant in the US, when Mexico - with it's cheap labor - is right next door; when Canada - with our universal healthcare - is right next door. The two American neighbors have some key competitive advantages (that need to be exploited, in our case - as we'll discuss later). Still more frightening for the US is the shift to India and China as major markets.

It is in this environment that the Yanks have decided lower taxes are the key - that, and the fact that the low tax mantra attracts voters - short term gain for long term pain (in reality). Like the UK in the 50s and 60s, America is producing inefficient, subpar products. The "bell-whether" for this is the US auto industry. Like the UK industry in the 50s, the Americans are about 5 years behind the rest of the world. Quality lags. Fuel efficiency is not a focus. Go to the UK today, and see what kind of cars - and even trucks - grace the roads. The vehicles are efficient, small, and many are powered by small diesel engines.

The US auto industry is not the only one. In the 60s and 70s American brands like RCA, GE, and Magnavox ruled the TV and electronics world. Nowadays these brands are laughable at best, and all manufactured in Asia or Mexico.

America's culture has become a culture of excessive consumption, with people buying corporate and social "logos". Children living in impoverished neighborhoods find ways to spend hundreds of dollars on the latest NFL or NBA jersey (made in China, of course).

America has done nothing to stop the rot. Europe was able to bring forth incredible social programs, government regulations of industry, and infrastructure projects to save those economies post-WW2. America has not done the equivalent. America has turned a blind eye to the rest of the world, to see how the economic success materialized. Post-war Germany didn't become an economic power by accident. There was careful social construction involved. That meant government "interference" - the kind that neoCons the world over do not like. European governments took time to build infrastructure, educate their populations, and support domestic industry (through medicare and social programs).

America has neglected infrastructure by relying on private contractors - who tend to only develop where there is money - not outlying areas that need to be developed. Having lived in North Dakota, I can attest to the primitive standards for internet and telecommunications in that state, Montana, and even rural Minnesota, when compared to Saskatchewan - where publicly funded and operated crowns developed a sparsely populated province.

The US has also neglected education. America's standards of education are below those of many so-called 3rd World countries - including India, China, and even - surprisingly or not - Cuba. Why is America's education system so primitive? They've sapped the public system by focusing on private education - including Universities. Most American students are challenged with maps of their own country - let alone the rest of the world (or even their immediate neighbors).

Well, enough about the hapless state of our Southern neighbors. What makes Canada different (so far - keep praying Harper doesn't have his way)? We have universal medicare, first of all. Our universal healthcare system - warts and all - is a HUGE competitive advantage that we fail to exploit. Past governments (read: Liberal) did indeed promote our healthcare system around the world, as a benefit to companies relocating here. The current Conservative government is caught in the American trap, and does nothing but bash Canadian health care. Wait until they start dismantling it for their much-touted P3Ps... (public/private/partnerships). Harper can't wait to get a majority so he and his Alberta cronies can dismantle our universal system. They'll do it by continuing to criticize the system we have until public apathy and concern leads to a change - any change... Just change it!

Canada has another big advantage over the US: We are not dogmatically anti-tax, or anti-government-funded development - well, at least not yet (let the Conservatives have a few years)... While our conservative-controlled/owned media bashes public institutions, our people still realize what good public development has done.

Canada is a young nation. Our resources are fairly less used and abused. Not saying that we should exploit these, but we do have more available. Our infrastructure is also young - comparatively speaking. We have no "evil" image in the world... We're actually still well-known the world over for our peacekeeping efforts. We haven't created a lot of enemies, and haven't become a part of any coalitions within which we stand out (with the exception of the recent Afghan "Mission" - although this is UN Sanctioned).

Given the well-liked state of Canada in the World, and our relative economic strengths, what would it take for us to surpass America as North America's strongest economy? Yes, it can happen. First of all, we'll need to grow. Not the slow population growth which is barely countering our death rate. We need to grow this country to roughly 75 to 100 million. We need to create conditions which urge part of the population of new immigrants to settle in the resource-rich Northern areas. Northern development will bring new growth. New growth will bring more newcomers. It's how the Prairies and the West were opened in general. The West too was known as a barren wasteland (but rich in agricultural land and resources) when Canada saw it's first major growth phase.

Maintaining Canada's "positive" stance in the World is also critical. We attract settlers with our conciliatory approach to World politics. We are appreciated for our relative neutrality and balance. We need to "fix" things here, though, as the Harper government - tied to Bush's Republic extremists - has somewhat ruined our reputation in some parts of the world.

We also are actually far behind the US in attracting foreign "minds" (ie foreign students) to Canada. There is currently an immigration competition going on between Western powers, to see who can attain the most Indian and Chinese engineers, scientists, and IT people. We risk falling behind, or completely out of the equation. Foreign students are actually "foreign direct investment", as they pay full for their studies, AND they pay much more than Canadian students. Our education system is far superior to the US' system, so we should have no problem attracting the students. Our immigration policy has to allow for more students, and advertise the benefits of study in Canada. It's that simple. We also need to work on expanding our schools, however. We need space for both domestic and foreign students. We also need to make provisions for the students to become citizens. With enough foreign student funding, we could make free university education a reality for Canadian students (this is the WesternGrit plan for Free Education in Canada)! With some of the best education available anywhere in the world, we can be the final destination point for many a scholar - and it never hurts to raise the national IQ. Great nations take great minds to grow. In Britain and America's heyday, it was scientists, engineers, legal scholars, and philosophers that drove national dreams and national growth. Nations like India and China have the world's highest per-capita numbers of scientists and IT experts - which is really the driving source behind their growth. We need our "skilled workers", but if we neglect to grow our intellectual classes our nation will suffer for it.

For the most part, a simple infusion of bright young minds and skilled workers, proper funding of infrastructure (including educational infrastructure), real urban investment, and environmentally-minded resource development, will result in a fast growing Canada. A climate of innovation driven by bright minds from differing backgrounds and worldly experience. Add to that liberal democratic values, with a system that can both "infrastructurally" and socially support the new populations. It's a simple formula, that has worked for nations in the past, and continues to work today.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Why Ethanol Is Going To Lead To War & Famine (Not A Pro-Oil Blogpost)

Looks like it has begun...  Food prices going through the roof.  Starvation the world over.  Booming middle classes in the old "Third World" beginning to get "theirs'".  The world is at a crossroads, and we are helping push humanity to the precipice...

Our greed - both personal and corporate - has led to this one final nail in the coffin of human compassion.  In our lust to drive our SUVs, our oil-injected leaders, driven by their oil-industry lobbyist friends, have decided to rob the poor of the few cereal crops they may have been able to afford.  Bush and Harper both will have the blood of millions of innocents on their hands, and it's all due to their desire to push biofuels...  So much for our corn, wheat, and other cereal crops.  Ethanol, here we come!!!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Vancouver Quadra - Not What It Seemed

For a few days I've been mulling over the results of the Quadra bye-election. Quadra has been dubbed a "slip" by the Liberals - by the political talking heads... A failure of Mr. Dion. It's pretty easy for them to say that, sitting in Ottawa and Toronto, and Calgary, and Montreal... not knowing a shred of what goes on out here.

Let's take another look at Quadra. It has been a Liberal stronghold for years. Joyce Murray is a strong candidate with good profile in the community. People in Metro Vancouver are more likely to vote for a socially and fiscally liberal (small l) platform and candidate than for a conservative one.

So what went wrong? Well maybe we should ask, what didn't. Take a Conservative riding in Alberta. Look at the recent provincial campaign in that conservative bastion. There were many areas where Liberals came close to unseating a sitting conservative MLA, or cut deeply into their vote total. What happened there? Well, the very same MEDIA TALKING HEADS said, "oh, the Conservative voters were so convinced their side was going to win, that they stayed home. Too much to do, so why spend a couple of hours going to vote? No... it wasn't a "Liberal surge". I mean, c'mon, it's a conservative province... Big city folks have soooo much other stuff to do. Not enough time for a vote, when you know it's going to be a pre-determined conclusion.

So Quadra, then. The talking heads and the Cons would love to paint this bye-election (and keep in mind, it WAS a bye-election) as something more than it was. The Conservative team simply pulled more vote. Many Liberals would have stayed home. Perhaps a lack of motivation (I'm sure that had something to do with it), perhaps a "sense of security". At any rate, all the pre-election polling in the world couldn't predict this result. People can tell pollsters what their voting intentions are until they're blue in the face (or red), but it means nothing until they're in the polling station casting that ballot. This is very true of general elections. It's even more the case in bye-elections.

So, why wouldn't any so-called "expert" mention this also highly logical conclusion for the Quadra result? I guess it's because these are the same "experts" who want to ignore the results in Toronto (even more suburban TO), and ignore the larger margins the Liberals won by there. When you're trying to make a case for the "Western strength" of the Reform movement, you need to make blanket statements. Forget that the "West" includes northern ridings which hardly EVER go Conservative. Forget that the "West" includes cities like Winnipeg and Vancouver which typically do not vote Conservative.

So there IS a simple explanation for what happened on Monday: Liberals were highly organized in the two Toronto ridings. Having just come off leadership campaigns, the two Liberal candidates had large numbers of volunteers still spoiling for leadership runs. These volunteers have a vested interest in those candidates, and will be pretty close to them - right up to the next leadership contest, and beyond. It was harder for Joyce to bring in such a "ready for battle" crowd. Add to that the "guaranteed seat" status of the riding, and it made it doubly hard to bring out the workers. Most of us old "hacks" out here know this. We've seen this when organizing campaigns... It's hard to get even loyal supporters out, when people feel the campaign is a foregone conclusion. When your candidate is new, and is replacing a VERY popular MP, it also makes it tough.

So what to make of this win? Oh... did I say "win"? Sorry, I must have meant to say something else. What's that? Oh, it was a win? Well then maybe let's just call it that. I remember my old high school football coach telling us that if we got asked about why we didn't put up 30+ points on a certain opponent, to tell them to look up at the scoreboard. So we say to the "talking heads", the detractors, and our Con friends: TAKE A LOOK AT THE SCOREBOARD.

What this bye-election HAS DONE for the Liberal Party, is give us a good jolt, and it will encourage a more aggressive approach to BC policy. It will ensure that Joyce spends a LOT of time getting ready for the next campaign. This bye-election has given the Liberal Party a fair shot at ensuring success in the months to come. Joyce Murray will be a great addition to the house. She will be a great addition to the Party. Her mere presence in the House will help her consolidate broader support in the riding.

Oh yeah... one other thing: Conservative corruption and scandal continues to build and be noticed. We're not going to stop talking about it. This will result in more voters coming back to the Liberal fold. There are a lot of regular voters who voted Liberal from 93 to 2000, who jumped to the Harper-Cons when the Liberals were falsely accused of corruption (due to the actions of a few civil servants and low-level folks who just happened to be party members). These voters are PROGRESSIVES at heart. They will return. It's just a matter of when. If the NDP is smart, they'll get on the Conservative corruption theme too. To "out-oppose" the official opposition... if they wish to supplant us, their best bet is to be better at our game. Not to attack us. Jack probably learned that this past Monday. If he hasn't, the NDP is in a little bit of trouble...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

What's Flaherty's "End-Game" (Besides The End Of Canada's Boom Economy?)

Jim Flaherty is quite the guy. After virtually destroying Ontario's economy as a provincial Tory, some idiot named Harper gives him a shot at destroying Canada's. We all know what idiotic policy Harper and Flaherty have brought to Canadian finance in the past couple of years: the disappearing budget surplus, the income trust scandal/fiasco, the consumption tax "break" that doesn't help Canadians, the "legal" $24,900 untendered contracts to his buddies... But, most of all, their record spending (never before in Canadian history has a government spent this much) barring all prudence or fiscal responsibility.

But, what is Flaherty's game? Does he intend to hang around an arguably weak federal government, and perhaps go down with the ship. Maybe even take blame for another economic disaster? Does Jim want to be in Harper's shoes? I would venture a guess, that "no", he is not looking to go any further in federal politics. His bone-headed moves (sure Harper is behind it too) have pretty much sealed his fate there.

What kind of a finance minister attacks a province? What kind of a finance minister attacks the province that has been the economic engine of Canada since before we were a country? Jim Flaherty's attacks are more than just him mirroring the words and feelings of Alberta Conservatives. Sure they hate Ontario - especially Toronto - but, Jim's not doing this for them.

Jim's plans are a bit more self-serving. You see, Jim Flaherty intends to run for leadership of the Ontario PC Party. He wants it bad. But there is a HUGE impediment to Flaherty being a successful Ontario PC leader: a prudent and caring Liberal government run by Dalton McGuinty. So Jimbo has to smear Ontario every chance he has. If he can use his public pulpit as Federal Finance Minister to badmouth the Ontario Liberals on Bay Street, and at every opportunity he has, he probably thinks he can imprint some sort of "anti-Liberal" idea in the minds of Ontario provincial voters. Just enough of an idea that it lets Jimbo slip into a PC victory in that province - and start destroying it economically again.

Every politician keeps a "back-up" plan handy for when things aren't going right. A "golden parachute" if you will. Ontario-bashing is Jim Flaherty's "golden parachute"... his re-entry into the world of Ontario provincial politics.

Why do I think Jim wants to be Ontario leader? A little birdie told me... Ask Jim. He won't say, "no, never, not a chance". He may well say something with double meaning, like "not at this time". In the meantime the Ontario-bashing by Jimbo will continue.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Big Trouble For Little Jack... Open Letter To Wacko Jacko...

So Jack... Thought you could attack the Liberal Party, rather than oppose this morally bankrupt Conservative government, eh? Well, well, well... Here's what ya get.

Jack, you've forgotten that the apogee of NDP success in the 70s came when a riotous group of dippers were attacking Joe Clark and his PCs - successfully. They brought IDEAS to Parliament, and spent most of their time pushing these ideas. Not taking on the Liberals. Not opposing the Official Opposition, while letting a joke of a government operate freely. NDP voters are a smart bunch, and they saw right through your strategy - and how it is hurting this country.

Jack, the best way to replace the Liberals, is for your party to become a more effective opposition than them. That can't happen if you're viewed as trying to make a living off of attacking the seemingly beleaguered Liberal Party. Voters saw right through that yesterday. Your time is better spent going after the government. Yeah, we know, you still think the Liberals are the government... Short memory, eh Jacko? Remember, there was a little thing about a vote in the House... You know - when you and your separatist friends helped bring down a moderate, liberal (small l) government, in favor of a bunch of angry, fiscal AND social conservatives?

By refusing to push your left wing agenda in Parliament, you've allowed the only agenda to be heard out there to be a fiscally and even (starting to skew) socially conservative one. The Cons have been given free reign to bombard the Canadian voter with right wing ideas. Eventually some of them "stick". It doesn't hurt that most of the national media is unabashedly conservative - especially fiscally. That's what happens when your media is controlled by multi-national conglomerates. Is that what you want, Jack? The ascendancy of conservative ideals?

Jack, you have some "splainin' to do" to your campaign workers. You know, the NDP hordes, which really should have been able to win a Northern Sask riding hands down. Or, put up a fight in ANY of our major cities. Not all suburban ridings either, but downtown core ridings. You lost to the Greens. A party that doesn't even have a sitting member in the House. Unless you fix something fast, the little green monster will grow, and grow, and grow - until they do have some seats. That what you want, Jacko?

Jack, you've worked for some big companies before. Tell me, did it serve you better to work really hard, and get recognized and promoted, to scale your way to the top? Or, was it a better idea to lie, and backstab, and take on your co-workers on the way to the top? Just what is the public perspective on each of these methodologies? What happened to the NDP that used to bring strong ideas to the House? What happened to the party that at times outdid other, larger, opposition parties in "opposing"?

Jack, it may be too late for you. We know the rumblings are there. Time for you to save some face. You may only have a week or two before the next election. Maybe longer (but do you really want to bet on that?). You may just have one last opportunity to shine in the eyes of Canadians. The government has once again shown it cannot win in large urban centers. The NDP still has traction in the rural areas of Sask and Man. - but, when you make the government look good, why would rural folk in those provinces vote against the government? You are losing battles in areas you used to win them. This may be your last chance.

Time to grow up Jack. If you want to replace the best, you need to be the best. The only place killing off you competition for the top spot works is in "Godfather" movies. You'll need to "out-oppose" a reinvigorated Liberal Opposition, Jack, if you want to be where you think you can get to. Good luck. You'll need lots of that.

Harper Conservatives Continue To Be Iced Out Of Major Metros

Well, there we have it. The Conservatives can't win in Metro TO, and lost again in Vancouver. Sure the Vancouver contest was closer than one would think, but in the end... well... just look up at the scoreboard. Some will say that these ridings were the Liberals' to lose, BUT one can also argue that these were fresh contests, with NO INCUMBENT - so really "brand new" seats.

Is this night a clear message for anyone? You would have to say that the Cons' hopes of a breakthrough in Metro Toronto are dashed. The Liberals bring a couple of high-profile stars to Ottawa - which cannot be too good for the "One-man Party of Canada". In Quadra, a loss is still a loss. The Cons got a little lucky, and the Liberal campaign wasn't what it could have been.

Is it time to pull the plug on this angry, corrupt government? Well, as a Liberal, things SURE DO FEEL GOOD tonight! Like the man said, "vive la Canada"!

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Tale Of 4 Ridings... Why Conservatives NEED To Make A Strong Showing...

Tonight we watch a tale of 4 ridings. Four different, and geographically distinct parts of Canada. One rural, Northern riding (DMCR), three urban. What occurs here, while not a "prediction" for the next general election, will be a pretty strong indicator of the types of fights we'll see in similar ridings, and among similar demographics. The Conservatives, while not having to win, need to have a strong showing in the urban centers. A government that claims to represent "the people" needs to show that it can pull substantial vote in the large urban centers OUTSIDE OF THE PRAIRIES. Failure by the HarperCons to do so will really be a boost to Liberal hopes.

I expect to see strong showings from the Liberal Party in Toronto Center, and Willowdale. If there are any surprises, DMCR in Northern Saskatchewan will be the battleground. The NDP have a strong campaign team, and judging by the way they have been going after us in Parliament, I wouldn't expect a break here either. This riding should be a tight 3-way race, with a long evening of counting and recounting... There will be strong NDP presence in two of the other ridings as well, but I expect Mr. Rae to have brought over enough of the team in Toronto Center to significantly hurt the dippers.

Vancouver Quadra is an interesting riding. It is one of the most affluent ridings in Canada. That would - you would expect - make it a more Conservative area. Being in Vancouver, however, allows for a little more moderation in the politics here, and people in Metro Vancouver tend to be a little more "small l" liberal. I was sitting in a coffee shop in Quadra last night, and was thinking of the variety of reasons for people there to vote anything but Conservative. If you add to that the sheer financial mismanagement by the federal Cons, and there isn't a whole lot to add with a Conservative vote.

A strong showing by the Conservatives in any riding may boost their (of late) low spirits. They've faced nothing but scandal for the past few weeks, and declining polling numbers. Where can they put up a good fight? DMCR in Sask. There is a strong, solid core of Conservative vote in that riding. The riding is also quite spread out, making campaigning quite a task. A candidate who can afford to make it to a lot of the outlying communities may have a better shot.

Generally in these ridings, there will either be a "vote of confidence" in Harp's gang, or a "hey wait a minute, this guy is starting to scare me" response. A "vote of confidence" for Harper, doesn't mean victories. It may simply be surpassing the NDP in votes. A governing party that wants to lead the nation NEEDS to have representation in key urban areas, and failure for the Cons to show growth in the urban areas will be a real confidence booster for Mr. Dion and company. It may also show that continual and growing evidence of Conservative scandal is finally starting to get "traction" with the voting populace.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

"Freedom Of Speech" - Just Watch What You Say...

The words of the indomitable Ice-T. In the late 80's and early 90's, "Ice" was rapping about censorship in the United States. He was particularly concerned about the suppression of artists' freedom of speech. His words were coarse, vulgar, and hard-edged... but, he was angry - and expressed it in some of the most profound political lyrics of their time (in the US, anyways).
Warning: Explicit lyrics... The following blogpost will contain some profanity that may be found objectionable by some readers. The lyrics take shots at the PMRC and Tipper Gore for her vociferous attacks on artistic freedoms in the US.

So what the heck am I talking about here, and why the reference to Ice T, the "Original Gansta"? Are threatened libel suits, and hate speech two completely different things? Actually they're quite related through our right to free speech - or lack of it. Stephen Harper and the Conservatives are intolerant of speech freedoms when it comes to criticism of their methods, or questions about their integrity - YET, they are very BIG FANS of freedom of speech when it comes to Ezra Levant's drivel, or the freedoms of various racists and other right-wing demagogues. Their message is clear: "freedom of speech" applies to right wing nut cases, the right-wing press, etc., when they want to bash gays, women, and minorities, BUT when it comes to liberal thinkers, artists, etc., then "no way".

You might think I'm getting out of hand here when I talk about the Cons suppressing artists' freedoms. Take a good long look into Conservative policy however: they have done nothing but cut funding for the arts, women's groups, and minorities, since they came into power. One way to suppress artists' "freedom of expression" is simply to cut off their funding (like funding for Canadian movies they find offensive). How do they suppress the speech freedom of critics? How about multi-million dollar law-suits. Sure, they may be using the "vehement denial and swift attack" strategy of an accused, knowing full well the courts will tie up the case for years... Still, their threat of a lawsuit has probably had the effect of culling very critical articles and news stories.

So what is right when it comes to freedom of speech? Should anyone be able to say anything they want and get away with it? Probably not. There is NO SUCH THING AS ABSOLUTE FREEDOM OF SPEECH. The moment YOUR freedom ends, is when it begins to threaten MY FREEDOM. So, for example, you can criticize me for my religious views. You can say I'm "old-fashioned", or "out-dated", or simply wrong. However, when you start to say things that MAY get me attacked physically, may result in my being discriminated against, or may result in other such suppression of my rights, then the "freedom" is being used to limit someone else's freedom - which is really limiting freedom. Clear?

In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, "Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry is own weight, this is a frightening prospect". The responsibility of freedom - one of the key responsibilities - is to ensure the freedom of others in society and around the world. So, while you may be free to say what you think of a government's actions, you are not free to make anti-semitic, anti-Muslim, or anti-(fill in the religion or gender of your choice here) remarks. These remarks can lead to discrimination, and even - in extreme cases - attacks and deaths.

Some libertarian conservatives would want NO LIMIT to freedom. This is where modern liberal society would disagree. Unfettered freedoms would lead to a dangerous and angry world that becomes fragmented and ghetto-ized, with marginalization of minorities and the weak. Civilization and civilized society has taught us to compromise to ensure the communal well-being of a population. If we can just go around taking pot-shots at others, and express our anger any way we like, we are no better than animals. So, freedom yes, but with some controls. No room for certain "ways of expression". This is why we have Human Rights Commissions. The very reason we do.

What about libelous statements? Journalists, or disseminators of news HAVE to be protected in society, in order to ensure a free media, AND to eliminate over handedness by government. Still, even they have limits. Ezra's rants against various minorities are ugly, and may do nothing but promote racism. They take it a step further than the norm. Major newspapers often run editorials that criticize the same minorities or groups, but do it in a more civilized manner, and stop short of advocating hate, or appearing hateful - or creating public perception that may create the environment for hate. Again, a body like the Human Rights Commission can and will help clarify just how far these freedoms can go. Libel, however, is a very different story. The Cons are attempting to Americanize Canada in many ways - and over-litigiousness is one of them. Threatening lawsuits is great if someone is calling you a crook without evidence, but to threaten a suit just because someone says you "knew about it", or haven't come clean about what you did know. That's not kosher. That's just trying to be a distraction.

I'm referring, of course to "Cad-scam". Mr. Harper has still not explained the tape-recording. The one with his own voice talking about financial considerations. Now, wouldn't it be fair for someone to assume he knew about the meetings, because WHEN the accusations were made, the Cons STILL DIDN'T HAVE THEIR STORY TOGETHER? They were still putting their story together when the allegations were made by Cadman's family, and the author of the book on Cadman (in a direct interview with Harper). The question is STILL out there. What did the government know? What did Harper know? When did he know it? If he did indeed know about it for months, why was it swept aside?

Freedoms for journalists, artists, and the common man asking questions, must remain. Freedoms for hate-mongers and "discriminators" cannot, and must not, be abused. A government-independent body like a Human Rights Commission is the necessary tool to ensure that the freedoms are not abused.

And with that, here are those angry lyrics about freedom of speech that got Ice T into so much trouble in the 90s... unedited to ensure creative and artistic integrity.
Warning (Parental advisory, etc.) This is X-rated stuff. This is your last warning. I've copied and pasted bits of the entire piece - uncensored, including some very (in my opinion) sexist comments. Not my favorite bit of music at all... but it makes a point. Why is it relevant? Because ultra-conservative groups in Canada - with links in this government are trying to limit a LOT of the artist's freedoms that Ice-T talks about.

"Freedom of Speech"


A-yo Ice, man. I'm working on this term paper for college. What's the
First Amendment?

[Verse 1]

Freedom of Speech, that's some motherfuckin' bullshit
You say the wrong thing, they'll lock your ass up quick
Yo PMRC, here we go, raw
Yo Tip, what's the matter?...
You're bitchin' about rock'n'roll, that's censorship,...
The Constitution says we all got a right to speak
Say what we want Tip, your argument is weak
Censor records, TV, school books too
And who decides what's right to hear? You?
Hey PMRC, you stupid fuckin' assholes
The sticker on the record is what makes 'em sell gold
Can't you see, you alcoholic idiots
The more you try to suppress us, the larger we get

[Verse 2]

[You have the right to remain silent]
Fuck that right! I want the right to talk
I want the right to speak, I want the right to walk
Where I wanna, yell and I'm gonna
Tell and rebel every time I'm on a
Microphone on the stage cold illin'
The knowledge I drop will be heard by millions
We ain't the problems, we ain't the villains
It's the suckers deprivin' the truth from our children
You can't hide the fact, Jack
There's violence in the streets every day, any fool can recognize that
But you try to lie and lie
And say America's some motherfuckin' apple pie
Yo, you gotta be high to believe that
You're gonna change the world by a sticker on a record sleeve
Cos once you take away my right to speak
Everybody in the world's up shit creek

Freedom of Speech, let 'em take it from me
Next they'll take it from you, then what you gonna do?
Let 'em censor books, let 'em censor art
PMRC, this is where the witch hunt starts
You'll censor what we see, we read, we hear, we learn
The books will burn
You better think it out
We should be able to say anything, our lungs were meant to shout
Say what we feel, yell out what's real
Even though it may not bring mass appeal
Your opinion is yours, my opinion is mine
If you don't like what I'm sayin'? Fine
But don't close it, always keep an open mind
A man who fails to listen is blind
We only got one right left in the world today
Let me have it or throw The Constitution away

[Outro (Jello Biafra)]

What they're trying to do with radio, with this, uh, McCarron-Walter
Act and a lot of other ways, is start by saying that they're
protecting the public from wicked rock bands, or girlie magazines, or
whatever. But, if you follow the chain of dominoes that falls down,
what they're really trying to do is shut off our access to information

If they can't do it by law they know there's other ways to do it.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Our Leader Was In Vancouver Yesterday??? Really???

I heard - via Liblogs - that our leader was in Vancouver yesterday. I recall when Mr. Cretien and Mr. Martin had just ascended to the party leadership years ago. There were rallies in every city they went to. Every Liberal in those towns received emails about where the leader was going, what radio talk shows, or local TV they would be on, what events they would be attending, etc.

I'm on an email list (for the BC Libs, as well as several MPs). Also on a mailing list. Never heard of the leader's visit.

Maybe it was just an oversight. Maybe it's just my PR-driven, business-savvy self speaking, but shouldn't EVERY visit to any location be a reason for a rally, election-style, and a chance to rally the troops?

Maybe I was just "out of the loop" on this one. Maybe the other 20 Liberals in my immediate circle were also just "out of the loop". Some of us have worked for MPs and Cabinet Ministers. A few of us have worked on every election (federal and provincial) through 3 provinces since the late 80s... If people like us are being "overlooked", I wonder how people just looking to be involved in the Liberal Party of Canada are getting involved.

The Cons (aka Reformers) were GREAT grassroots fundraisers. They have become masterful at maintaining close contact with rank-and-file members for rallies, agitation, and fund-raising. How the heck do we suppose we're going to raise the $$$s we'll need to run an election campaign if we can't even get our faithful - some of our hardest workers - to a rally when the leader is in town??? Campaign workers, donors, and volunteers need to be "massaged". They need to get out and feel closeness to the leader and other star MPs. It's what keeps the adrenaline going, and the enthusiasm up. You need to generate excitement to generate funds.

Sorry. I didn't get my "excitement generating" call or email for this past visit. Neither did a whole lot of others. We need to try harder, or we're going to get pancaked. Not for lack of great ideas, or of being less accepted by Canadians than the Harpo Clown Crew. No, if we get pancaked in the next election, it's because we could not get out the workers and organization needed to win. It starts with the leader, and leader's visits. Let's try to get organized. We could be in "election mode" next week.

Time to ditch "amateur hour". If we need to bring in people with the skillset to properly "drive" our leader, let's get it done. We're running out of time.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Harper Conservatives A "Threat To Democracy"

Well, well, well... The great Justice Gomery - you know the one: his commission was the Cons' poison-tipped arrow that helped bring down a government - is downright furious about the very same Conservatives' refusal to accept his recommendations on government integrity and corruption.

According to news sources: "Gomery told a parliamentary committee today centralized power in the PMO is a "danger to Canadian democracy" and paves the way to political interference in public administration."

A DANGER TO CANADIAN DEMOCRACY. Don't think Canadians had THAT in mind when a small minority of them were voting for the "wolves-in-sheep's-clothing" better known as the Conservative Party of Canada. Those are some very poignant words by the former justice. Mr. Gomery was an INDEPENDANT counsel whose work in the last few years shed light on some shady dealings by minor former Liberal officials in Quebec.

To be described as a "danger to Canadian democracy" is a VERY serious accusation, and something that a government has not been called in recent memory. This is also something that the Canadian public needs to know - perhaps in the way of a nice "pre-election" TV ad. Imagine the black and white closeups - with ominous background music - as the very serious sounding announcer says, "Justice John Gomery has called the Conservative Government a danger to Canadian democracy. This government has created a dangerously powerful PMO that threatens to change the way Canadians live, work, and play. Is this the Canada YOU want?" Background scenes during the live, work, and play segment would display happy diverse Canadian families. The "is this the Canada you want" part would be heralded by imagery of angry Conservative MPs (some foaming at the mouth) screaming in the House, smokestacks in Alberta billowing toxic smoke, police beating anti-war protesters, and heck, why not, a few baby seals getting clubbed... (that part's a joke)...

All fun aside, the justice has a very good point, and this government IS a threat to democracy. We need to do something about it, but more importantly WE NEED TO BE PREPARED TO TALK ABOUT IT. As with anything before the voters, it has to be incessantly drilled in, over and over again, before we know there is traction...

John Gomery was a "god" to the Conservative Party back when he held his commission in Ottawa. The Conservatives not only respected his every word, but also harped (harpered?) on about the commission's - still incomplete at that point - findings. Curious to see how the Conservatives will react to Gomery's very well-founded accusations. An honest government would say, "we've made some mistakes - some errors in judgement - and we intend to make it better, to re-establish the trust of the Canadian people". Don't expect Harper to come out with such an apology right away.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Why Be A Blogger On Liblogs? Oh Yeah... And Conservative Scandal

Why? Why do we blog?

In the last few days, I've asked myself that question many a time. I mean, for those of us who are "hawks", we aren't seeing the election that we KNOW should happen pronto. For those who believe we have a PLAN, we think any criticism is hurtful. The lack of action on anything I blog about, has been a bit of a put-off - but just WHO ARE WE anyways? I have decided to continue blogging - just not with the expectation for an election when I say so... (not that I ever expected it).

Certainly for many of us, this is purely a partisan exercise. We feel we can help our candidate/party, and/or government in some way. I prefer to blog openly, and about issues that are of relevance to Liberals - not being "partisan" to any one person, or group, so to speak.

I would argue that "partisanship" does not mean blind faith. I would suggest that "suggestive blogging" IS partisanship. When you correct a child, you do it out of love. You do it because you care. You do it because you think it is taking a wrong action, and it must be corrected.

I use the words "suggestive blogging" because I feel that attacking someone for actions that you are not aware of the cause of, is wrong. We don't know what real strategies are in place. We only see the optics. We are reacting to the "optics". Remember that Stephen Harper changed from lizard-eyed, kitten eating, fascist, secret-agenda man, to Canada's "veteran PM" with "cunning", and "skillful handling of issues", almost overnight.

I am by no means defending Mr. Dion. I did not support him in the leadership. Still, I say he needs a chance to display his plan. I like the guy. Most of us do. I would say most non-sovereignist Canadians do. He put on a great performance during the Quebec/national crisis in the 90s. He talks (a lot) about the environment. Everyone likes the environment - even (seemingly so) these new Conservatives.

Blogs that are "constructively critical" of the party, MPs, or leader are helpful. As long as they are constructive. Some people will "go off" when blogging, but you have to look at the majority of blogs (when you're scanning them), and formulate an opinion based on that majority. People come to Liblogs because they are Liberal, or wanting to know what Liberals are thinking. They read the blogs, and formulate opinions - usually - based on the most common "threads". Liblogs reflects a balance that has bloggers of all sorts blogging into a kind of gray middle ground. I don't think the media - or anyone that looks at our blogs - will have their opinion seriously skewed by one blog, or one write-up.

I, for one, will continue to maintain my method of expressing opinion. I urge other bloggers to continue as well. Don't leave the "community", and certainly don't leave the party. Change is best affected from within.

As for today's headlines, and how the Party is handling them? I will continue to add positive "critique". Let the Conservatives stew in the taint of their bribery scandal a little bit more. Maybe a few weeks. That way the scandal doesn't die out while it's being sent to "committees", or to an outside adjudicator. That way it carries with some momentum - right into the election campaign.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Malfeasance - Part Deux

For years the Reform-Allia-Cons screamed about the "dirty politics" in Quebec. They railed against what they called the Liberal attempts to "buy" "no" votes in Quebec... Back when we were busy trying to save the country... Remember that?

So if WE were accused of trying to influence the "no" vote - what, may I ask is this???

Malfeasance. Pure and simple.


Watch the media ignore this story - even though it's direct pandering for votes - not trying to save the country or anything like that. Wonder what all those Quebecers in BQ or Liberal ridings think of this??? If Quebecers gave us a hard time for trying to save the country, just what will they do with the Harper Conservatives grossly skewed spending in Conservative ridings in that province???

Stay tuned. We hope to hear more about this - from all honest media outlets...

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Bold Leadership

So, there's a poll out there that indicates Canadians would be more likely to vote for Barack Obama, than for any of our national leaders. This is very interesting news indeed - but not surprising.
The sad thing is, the poll is very telling. We have a very bland group of leaders. We haven’t had a true “visionary” since Trudeau. Not saying that these leaders are not CAPABLE of doing great things for their perspective ideologies... They are capable, but choose to be too guided by what they THINK people want - not pursuing what their ideologies dictate. Jack Layton isn't as much of a social democrat as he pretends to be. A lot of my NDP friends would vouch for that. If the NDP leader introduced more socially progressive policy in Parliament - a'la Tommy Douglas - they would help sway the mood of the country closer to the center, or center-left. While Canadians may not want "left wing" ideas (or what are considered "left wing" ideas by our media), repeated exposure to ideas makes people THINK about those ideas. The same philosophy has worked for the right. A conservative media bias across North America has allowed for folks to think the macho swagger, uncaring, "me first", and aggressive ideas of the right are "cool" or "chic". It seemed a few years ago that being a gun-slinger was the only way to be - lest you be considered a traitor. A conservative-biased media controlled by people like Conrad Black and Rupert Murdoch flooded the public domain with "dumbed down" editorials bashing liberalism and social democrats at every opportunity, and selling this "neoCon dream".
Stephen Harper has angered a lot of conservatives within his own Conservative Party. He certainly sent shockwaves through the hard right "Guard" members of the old Alliance/Reform bunch when he did not do enough (in their eyes) to combat same-sex marriage. He has been "faking" being a "centrist" so he can stealthily acquire a majority. Still, he has managed (not without help from South of the 49th) to introduce enough right-wing ideas to Parliament to swing Canada from center to center-right in a couple of years. What may tone him down once again is an election (gotta hid neo-con ideas from the public), and the right wing's plummet South of the border.

What about our leader? We heard him during the leadership campaign. We know he is passionate about this country. We know he is passionate about the environment. What else is he concerned with? We need to know, but more importantly the PUBLIC needs to hear it. Muddy policy talk will not create public interest. We need to put out ideas that carry and resonate with the public. Wedge issues that separate us from the Conservatives.

What areas can we create wedge issues in? How about immigration. A BOLD immigration plan to help salvage our labor force would be a good start. Something visionary that once and for all unclogs the traffic jams the Conservatives have created (we know that "real" immigration has declined since the Cons took power). We need to really open up the doors. Listen to the xenophobes howl. We also need to take REAL ACTION on the issue of foreign trained professionals. I hope - sometime within my lifetime - to see the last taxi-driving doctor, because he is working in a hospital somewhere in rural Saskatchewan. Somewhere where they can't get or keep a doctor.

The environment is fine and dandy as a "cool" issue. It's really "cool" to dress up all green for the cameras (vis-a-vis Montreal 2006). It's fine to say we want to take real action. But, when we don't take REAL action, we look like hypocrites. We have the grounding to take real, BOLD action on the environment. Dion's the guy to do it. We need to strike forth and talk about a targeted carbon tax. Not something that hits consumers directly. It needs to be something that is more industry related. Industry sets the example for consumers. Like we have cigarette ads that warn against smoking, our government CAN sanction environmental reminders, and helpful green tips on cartons, boxes, and bottles. It seems that consumers tend to "believe what they buy". A message on their purchase is the easiest way to educate them. We also need to ensure that industry abides by the rules - not just soft and continuously changing targets. Not just "empty" regulations like Alberta's joke of an attempt. BC Liberals have been bold in this vein. Time for the national party to step up.

What about Canadian corporations and MNCs? The Conservatives have created a mess in Ontario. No - wait, I'm wrong - they haven't created a "mess" in Ontario, they've openly declared war on Ontario. With industry dying in Southern Ontario and Quebec, the federal Conservatives are happy to prop up Alberta, while trying to also buy votes in Quebec. Let Ontario sink or swim on her own. You can't just neglect Canada's most populous province. That many people going into an economic tailspin will have repercussions for the whole country.

What can we do along with our MNCs that will help create jobs, sustain Canadian ownership, AND help us in areas we need help badly? How about infrastructure? Infrastructure around Canada is a real mess. The Trans-Canada highway - our great national route - is a death-trap in many places, including much of rural BC, parts of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and the Canadian Shield Region. Yes, it will cost money. Yes, it will be expensive. It is, however, the duty of our national government to help fund - or entirely fund - these types of ventures. Local and provincial governments can't, or won't. A mega-project of this type will only help our economy. We will be able to put more Canadians to work, help the environment and transport industry (right now trucks spend countless hours idling in traffic jams), and help with tourism. Some of the world's best skiing occurs in the Canadian Rockies and points West of that. It would be a boon to those areas to have a 4 or 6 lane highway from Vancouver or Calgary to those areas. The Americans did it years ago. The Finns and Swedes have excellent highway systems in similar Northern climates. It is a shame that we cannot do the same.

What other projects need funding? What other ways can we properly invest our surpluses? We have critical needs for Northern development. We currently don't even have a permanent highway "up North". To go from Edmonton to Yellowknife you need to take a temporary road over permafrost and frozen lakes. You can't get there in the summer - by land. We need to "connect the dots" on the Northern map. This is part of exercising our sovereignty, but also of being inclusive of our Northern communities and First Nations.

Speaking of First Nations, perhaps our ONLY national shame is the treatment of our First Peoples. Living conditions of our First Nations are constantly criticized around the world. It's actually pretty much the ONLY bad thing you hear about Canada when traveling abroad. We need to invest in our First Nation communities - heavily - to ensure that we bring these vital parts back into the Canadian fold. We need to provide the infrastructure and education to ensure that these communities grow - for the benefit of all. We have a large untapped resource within our First Nations. Just who would make up the skilled workforce that helps build our national infrastructure? The large First Nations populations - particularly on the Prairies and up North - would be a huge part of it.

Education. Canada's university system should be free for those who qualify. The defeated Paul Martin government was set to make 1st and 4th year university education free (a fact that received little hoopla in the partisan politics of the time - not a single student I spoke to on the campaign trail was aware of this). Thinking BOLD would include a fully funded education, with properly funded universities and trade schools. The more we help fund our institutions, the more we can avoid the bad influence of big corporate money biasing research (vis-a-vis drugcos and big oil). Imagine a publicly funded education system that pushes real research and development that truly benefits Canadians. Imagine the most highly educated workforce in the world.

Pharmacare - REAL pharmacare. The Brits can do it. Their economy wasn't the best when they began this project, but one can certainly argue that it is very strong now. We have to take our medicare system to the next level. We can take the opportunity to bolster our domestic, generic drug companies. Proper funding for hospitals is a very important part of that process. A program of rural residencies for health professionals should become a required part of the admission requirements for medical school. We need to protect our healthcare system from commercialization. There's no "profit motive" clause in the Hypocratic Oath, and there shouldn't be one in our healthcare system.

Investment is the key word here - not "spend". What we do with our surpluses will be our legacy to our children. We can choose to squander that legacy on tax cuts that won't even be remembered past the budget (typical taxpayer response is, "when's the next tax cut"?). Or, we can choose to make this country more the envy of the world than it already is. We can have the best highway and public transit systems in the world, with the world's most advanced communications network. This, of course, will require cash, but also the skills of some of Canada's best homegrown companies (Bombardier, CN, CP, Nortel, The cable and phone companies, etc.).

What else is bold? How about closing some government tenders to foreign companies where domestic companies have the skills and expertise? We may still require some foreign tenders - but only AFTER we have exhausted all domestic providers. It's sickening to see companies like Bombardier bypassed for contracts by Brazilian, American, or EU companies. We have to have a two step tendering process, with provisions for cases where: 1) No domestic provider exists, or 2) the domestic cost is far outside of the "world average". This measure would support existing Canadian business, BUT it would also encourage new Canadian businesses. Canadian venture capitalists would be quick to create new companies to support our national ventures.

When Americans talk about the Democratic contenders as being "bold", or signifying real change, they are identifying something real. The REAL change is beyond Hilary’s gender, or Obama’s ethnicity. It is things like Obama’s refusal to accept donations from Big Oil, Big Insurance, and Big Health companies (or any big corporate interest group for that manner). No major Canadian political party can claim that. The other BIG change is that the VERY NATURE of the differences of these two candidates (Obama/Clinton) will cause people from those demographics to be “uplifted”, and receive a boost in their public perception. This will open all sorts of doors for people who too often saw a glass ceiling. Now, in America, the sky is truly the limit for those demographic groups…
It was refreshing to see the interesting comparison of Canadian leaders with Barack Obama. We really could learn a lot from our neighbors down South - no matter how strange that seems... Perhaps our leaders will take queues from the "new Camelot" that seems to be coming to America. Perhaps they will change their way of thinking. Perhaps they will help put an end to the creep of the right-wing into daily reality. Only by espousing liberal democratic ideas - and implementing them on a clear and bold platform - can we ensure that we don't all get sucked into the consumerist, pan-Americanist vortex that Harper and his henchmen are fomenting.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Infantile Conservative Government

So what exactly is it with a government that denies any accountability for any wrongdoing, or even error? That yells and screams when accused of wrongdoing? That will go to any length to attack, yet no-one DARE attack them? A government that in little more than 2 years has created more - and far more serious - scandals than any past government in such a short time frame.

What do we call a government, that, when it doesn't get it's way, wants to take all it's toys and go home? That loves to say, "wasn't me". Cries to "Mom" (Auditor General, Ethics Commissioner) for years, but when it's their turn to be looked into, discredits "Mom"? A government that decides not only to bully and pick fights in it's own neighborhood, but goes out of it's way to be influenced by the juvenile delinquent in the adjoining neighborhood (Dubya, of course) into doing his bidding (see Foreign policy, NAFTA-gate, Kyoto-denial, etc.)?

What do we call that scornful, angry, prejudiced, infantile, collection of haters? Why, the federal Conservatives, of course. The federal Conservatives have given a new definition to the word "juvenile". They are the schoolyard bully. The aggressive child with insecurity issues. And their leader - le infante terrible - none other than Stephen Harper. The chief pig at the trough. The bully who knows all - insists on it, as a matter of fact - yet, apparently lies to Canadians and claims, like Schultz on Hogan's Heroes, "I know noth-ing..."

In due time, this band of would-be destroyers of the Canadian identity will go down in defeat. As a Liberal Opposition, it is our duty to ensure we hold le infante terrible's feet to the fire. Let's see the pigs at the Ottawa trough become the pigs on a spit, as we carefully slow roast them to ensure they show all their warts...

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Conservative Scandals Continue Today... But...

Conservative scandals continue today, but we have some interesting news coming out of the Liberal camp. Time to touch on this - briefly.

Concerning the upcoming motion in the HofC by our party - you all know the one... Is this a brilliant tactical move, or just a "loose motion"...? Several bloggers have already condemned the motion - before it even hits the floor...

Looking at the motion, it does certainly "tell it like it is". It is really to the point. The challenge is, it seems to lament a past, that is just that - the past. It's intent is not to do that, but the spin will be there. Still, once the motion is voted on, and voted against by the NDP and Bloc, it will be in the books. Nothing will prevent a Liberal ad from carrying the info and making it clear to voters just where the NDP stood on the matter.

This motion is NOT for a bump in the current polls. No, it is planning for the future, and future radio and TV ads. They can make fun of us now - they won't when the ads are released come election time. Of course, this is all just wild speculation on my part, but doesn't it make sense? Actually, it's the only rational explanation that makes any sense - besides the "holy shit, they've lost it!" approach.

I'm taking a more fatalistic approach to politics these days. What we have is a result of karma. The balance of the universe (or the political status quo, if you will), will stay close to center as long as we have: a) no Conservative majority, or b) no NDP majority (they being the two parties furthest to either wing of the political spectrum). Point "a" is a real (and frightening) possibility. Point "b" is a joke.

I'm looking at it all this way: We have a leadership team that is trying to make their best go of it. We could say they're inexperienced, but c'mon, Dion's been around through a LOT of campaigns, and a lot of his top lieutenants came from the old Martin or Cretien camps. A "green" leader is one who was not an MP for very long, or one who just came up from provincial ranks - or private life. They know what they're doing, and let them accept the responsibility for their actions. Sure there have been gaffes, but most everything is part of the plan, I'm sure. One has to wonder, however, if some of the bad advice is being given by advisers who worked with some of the other camps that joined with Dion in his leadership victory... Perhaps still planning on completing their run??? Nah... that would never happen.

Let the powers that be do their elected jobs. If, after the best laid plans, we fail, look like a bunch of blithering idiots, or what have you, then we have a clearly defined process within our organization to make changes. We are a party LOADED with extremely bright and hard-working MPs. Our party is NOT bereft of talent (as is the case with the Federal Conservatives). As a matter of fact, being middle of the road allows us to have some of the best thinkers of our times within our ranks. We have some incredibly adept politicians waiting in the wings, and some real young stars: People like Brian Tobin, Ralph Goodale, Ruby Dhalla, Mark Holland, Nav Bains, Denis Coderre, David McGuinty, Pablo Rodruiquez, Justin Trudeau, etc. What do all these folks have in common? Inspiring performance in the Commons (Justin, not yet), solid educational backgrounds, worldly experience, exceptional people skills (very important in our game), and just the right amount of flair and panache to lead.

So... fellow Liberals, unlike the Conservative Party, we don't have to focus entirely on one man or woman. Our party is MUCH more than just the leader, or leadership team. If that team does meet with failure, we have a VAST field of stars to choose from to replace them. But, until we can say we have "issues" or "challenges", LET THEM ALL DO THEIR JOBS!!! Remember, we haven't had an election yet. I'm a "hawk" too, but we need to ensure our ducks are in a row before we pull the plug on this scandal ridden government. Besides, we need to keep the Cons around long enough to hear more of the delectable scandal stories.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Cadscam cont'd... More Conservative Scanda

More and more and more. When will the Conservative scandals stop coming out of the woodwork? Hopefully not soon. We have a long list of very tricky situations coming up for the Cons - and currently going on... They will have some pretty wild excuses for some of them. Plausible? Probably not. We'll have to see...

Let's review just a small sample of what the Con-servatives have served up for dinner...

Election financing "troubles". To say the least. This matter is being looked into by the appropriate legal authorities...

Stockwell Day's brewing scandal. What were the terms of Day's "negotiation" with his would-be nomination opponent?

The blatant lie that was Shawinigate. New bank records show that there were NO agreements on paper for financing involving the Cretiens. Just Conservatives (with help from the Nat Pest) trying to smear another good man.

The income trust scandal. The Conservatives made an election promise that they turned completely around. The scandalous part is the "evidence" that they used to change their minds on their election promise.

The Mulroney-Schreiber Affair. Mr. Mulroney was one of Harp's "best buddies" all through the last election campaign. One of his closest advisors. The Harper government knew about the Schreiber ick many months before it hit the public "fan". What did the PMO know? Did they do anything to hide it...

Isotope-gate. There was some real bullying going on here. A government that criticizes, then fires a civil servant better have some really good reasons. These guys don't seem to have any valid reason for doing what they did. There is also the question of public safety that seems to be overlooked.

Baird-O'Brien Scandal ("Bob-gate"). We all know about the potentially shady dealings that seem to have transpired in this race in Ottawa. This too is being investigated by the appropriate legal authorities.

Cadscam. I've written a lot on this. There is still more to come. We have taped evidence that SOMETHING happened. It is either for the RCMP, or the courts, but definitely for the public to decide. Mr. Harper cannot go on without explaining what the words "financial considerations" meant. He also needs to disclose WHAT happened in the meeting on the 17th.

Now we have "NAFTA-gate". It appears to be a very deliberate act that has interfered with the US election campaign. So much so, that it became a major issue for Mr. Obama. And the Con's have the gall to challenge us on our party's stance on US policy??? When they appear to have interfered directly with that country's election? Where's the respect for the American people in that??? It appears the only respect the Cons have for Americans, is for the Republican variety - particularly those with close ties to big oil. They have no place for 50%-plus percent of the American populace - who in their NeoCon-publican way of thinking are nothing but a bunch of lefty pinkos...

A time comes when an Opposition (not just one party, but all the opposition) need to start asking some pointed questions - and getting answers. We are at that point now. We know that there are RCMP investigations ongoing - and to come - based on these Conservative scandals. We need to ensure that the Canadian public is aware, and apprised of all the events. Like Mr. Martin's very public pursuit of the Gomery Commission, it will have to be a Liberal, once again, that steps forward and begins the honest pursuit of answers in these new Conservative scandals. Our democracy requires that we act. Our people require that we be stoic in our resolve.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Not Cadscam... But Did "The Con-father" Have Something To Do With This Too???

Interfering in another country's election is pretty much an international incident. Actually that's exactly what it is. Did Peter McKay's Foreign Affairs Dept. (who begged and pleaded for an interview with a low level Obama "advisor") intentionally interfere in Obama's campaign to cast doubt on the (likely) Democratic nominee's integrity???

Was this another case of the all-knowing, control-freak, "Con-father", helping his American Republic masters? One has to say, "why not"? I mean, half of Stephen Harper's election machine is made up of Republican advisors from the US - helping the Conservatives brew an American-style campaign up here in Canada (yeah, it still is Canada the last time I checked)...

Harper is an all-knowing control freak. He knows all the things going on around him. His office ceaselessly briefs and debriefs his MPs and Cabinet. AS IF he doesn't know what's been going on in this scandal, or Cadscam, or Isotope-gate, or any of the numerous other scandals a-brewin' in Conservative-land.

Sometimes, Mr. Harper, being an all-knowing control-freak isn't such a good thing. You run the most centralized PMO and power structure in Ottawa in all of Canadian history. Do you really expect ANYONE to believe you had know prior knowledge (or helped with the planning of) of any of these scandals??? C'mon, get off it.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The "Confather" Speaks.... Cadscam Pt. 4

It's pretty typical for the Don, Stephen Harper - "The Confather", if you will, to say one thing, then say something completely different days, months, or years later...

Remember the "defeatist attitude" of the Maritimes?

Remember the "immigrants living in ghettos West of Winnipeg"?

Remember him calling Canada a "Northern European welfare state"?

Remember his (in writing) call for a firewall to be built around Alberta?

Remember his answers to questions about all these things in the last election? All "The Confather" could say was, "Gomery, Gomery, Gomery.... Blah... blah... Gomery... Libranos... Gomery... Blah, blah, ... tax cuts... He didn't ANSWER the questions. He ducked and dodged and went after some low level operatives in the Liberal Party - and managed (with media help) to taint the entire party just enough that some votes slipped away. Add to that the false allegations and attacks on the honorable Mr. Goodale (yes the Dippers brought it up first, but where did the info come from?, and the Cons DID make it one of their OWN questions), the false allegations against Mr. Cretien (re: Shawinigate).

Wow... seems like "The Confather" found a great way to get elected: level deviously shady allegations against the government - let the conservative-dominated media machine (see: CanWest/NatPost, Quebecor, etc.) run with it, and voila' - instant "New Government". It didn't hurt that all the blustering about the Gomery Inquiry covered up Harper's own "imperfections", like, for example, all his two-faced stances when it came to the issues listed above...

Now, "The Confather" would like us to not believe what he was "on the record" as saying to the writer of the Cadman book (even the part about, "uh, this is not for publication?"). He would like us not to believe what he said about, "financial considerations" (again, ON THE RECORD). No... "The Confather" would like Canadians to believe that his new story is the right one (after he's had a chance - cerebral guy that he is - to carefully craft his crafty response to the scandal).

I think Canadians (and hopefully the media) are seeing right through this stuff, and are ready to bring "The Confather" and/or his henchmen to the mat on this one. At the VERY LEAST we need a full investigation. Anything else is a slap in the face of democracy.

Cadscam... Proof Is Still The Proof... Malfeasance, Part 3

"I didn’t regard it as a “Party” initiative, but rather; the overzealous indiscretion of a couple of individuals…."

And with those words, and Harpo's ugly threats, some neoCons think the issue is "done". Think again.

The fact remains the TAPES are still there. The tapes and a book - both insinuating that "financial considerations" (right from Harpo's mouth) were made.

The fact IS, that the public still gets a look at the uglier side of Parliamentary politics - involving the Conservative Party and/or senior members/employees of that party. A party, might we add, which was "creating a new level of openness and integrity" in Parliament. LOL... LOL... I say, "same old Tory, same old story".

Fact is, Stephen Harper gave an interview on the topic, and was very worried that the interview would be "public". Why was Stephen worried the interview would be "on the record"? What does he not want the public to know? He needs to be asked, and in a forum where he can't give a terse political answer. Only a court can help clear this up.

Fact is, Donna Cadman indicated that an offer was made by SOMEONE with power in the CONSERVATIVE PARTY.

Fact is, the Cadman's daughter was very clear, very recently, about an "indecent proposal" being made.

Fact is, EVEN IF this was, "the overzealous indiscretion of a couple of individuals…", it makes it a MORE TROUBLING ACT than what occurred in the whole "Adscam" affair. Adscam involved "overzealous" low-lying members of the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party with an inappropriate fundraising scheme. Cadscam seems clearly to involve Conservative Party operatives (in what appears to be a pre-defined mission) attempting to secure an MP's vote with "financial considerations".

What's good for the goose, is certainly good for the very malfeasant gander... Cadscam - appearing as it does to be more serious than Adscam - deserves a very thorough investigation. Stephen Harper - if anyone - should be jumping up and down screaming for an investigation, if he is indeed innocent of any wrongdoing - rather than threatening lawsuits so he can pull a snap election and avoid this issue from harming his re-election chances.

Cadscam: The Proof Is The Proof... Is STILL The Proof...

(Note Nixon-like Image, "I'm not a crook")

So this morning I wake up to news about Donna Cadman's continued interest in running for the Cons, and her thoughts on "what it would take" to get there... We also hear about Harper with his threat of a lawsuit...

Thing is... the proof is still the proof, or so to speak. We have tape recordings of Conservative Party members - including this PM - talking about financial considerations with Mr. Cadman, not to mention the "on the record" comments in the book. This merits further investigation.

Mr. Harper is threatening a lawsuit because he is pushing to force an election, and wants this thing to be held back by the courts until at least when the election is over. A Conservative Majority would buy Harper and his henchmen another 4 to (probably) 5 years. The threatened court action will give enough people the opportunity to say, "no comment", or "this is in the hands of the courts", until the election is gone.

As Liberals, we need to ensure that the public is apprised of every part of what appears to be some pretty heinous activities. It is to the benefit of the Canadian public that we DO NOT force an election on this issue, and take the time to ensure Parliament hears every bit of evidence in this shady story. The Cons, of course, will want to force an election as soon as possible.

As we say, "the proof is the proof...", and there seems to be plenty of that right now...

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Cadscam - The Proof Is The Proof... Is The Proof...

Conservatives were quick to lie and cast disparaging words at good men of integrity like Ralph Goodale (they lied and got the RCMP to investigate a supposed leak of financial information from his office - he was absolved - of course), and Mr. Cretien (Shawinigate - another blatant falsification). Now, when they have some huge scandals of their own brewing (Cadscam, federal election financing, Stockwell Day's potential buying of an opponent in a nomination contest, the little issue with Ottawa's mayor, Isotope-gate, and many, many more), the federal Conservatives are jumping up and down crying, "no evidence, no evidence!"

Well... like a great man once said - "The proof is the proof". We have more than just heresay evidence - as the Cons did when they more than likely coaxed their friends (Conrad Black and Company) at the National Pest to publish lies about Mr. Cretien's involvement in the hotel financing situation in Shawinigan. We have - in the public eye - transcripts, interviews by a biographer, family testimonials, AND - most telling - the proof: tape recordings. There isn't just one tape recording. There are recordings of Mr. Cadman mentioning that the Cons offered him bribes - while the Liberals did nothing of the sort. There are recordings of our "new" Prime Minister admitting that they offered some financial considerations to Mr. Cadman. There are further interviews of Mr. Harper (now as PM) contradicting his very own statements, years later. We also have admissions by the PMO - and Mr. Harper himself - that they were aware of this situation for some time now.

So, once again the question arises: what did they know, and when did they know it? Why was the RCMP not called in, or internal party discipline carried out IF, as they are bound to claim, some rogue Hill staffers, or Party executive decided to make the offer on their own (although we know this is not true - since we have the PM on tape clearly indicating that he was aware some financial dealings were attempted)?

This scandal stinks to high hell... And it has Stephen Harper written all over it. This self-proclaimed man of integrity, from the self-proclaimed party of integrity, has sullied the reputation of our great institution - our Parliament. Now we know these angry, hateful Reformers never liked anything about our government, or the way it operates. They took potshots at institutions like Stornoway - until Preston Manning moved in, cabinet limos (ancient Chev Caprices, by the way) - guess what they ride in now? The Conservative jackals have been driven to dissemble the Senate - our body of sober second thought. They only attack what the media publicizes about the Senate, while leaving out the massive amount of Parliamentary Committee work that would never happen if it wasn't for Senate involvement (while MPs from the House are busy trying to get re-elected). These angry Cons have also attacked our nation's judiciary. They are bent upon replacing justices with their own neo-Con brethren in a move that smacks of what Musharraf tried in Pakistan. They even have tried to Americanize our electoral system by fixing election dates - like that won't result in the 4th year of a term becoming a permanent election campaign and PR show...

Stephen Harper and the "new Conservatives" have trodden upon our Parliamentary institution. They despise what Parliament stands for, so why wouldn't they find it easy to bribe, to lie, to cheat, to get their way? These neoCons have - with Republican help - tried to destroy the very fabric of our nation. Their American Republican campaign advisers - along with the old Mulroney crew have created a level of anger and scorn in Parliament that has never been seen before. Anything can be attacked. Everything is turned into a media circus. Sound bytes are becoming the new "factoids". Angry partisan barbs from the likes of drooling pitbulls like John Baird are the political currency of this bunch of Conservatives.

So what should the buying public - the Canadian public - read into all of this? Quite simply that a bunch of angry, spiteful neo-Conservatives who never had any love for the institutions of this land, made clear attempts to bribe an elected official. The current Prime Minister is involved in some way, and was clearly aware that there were "financial considerations". There is all sorts of evidence. It's now the duty of reporters with integrity, news outlets with integrity, and the Police to delve further into this. As we say, "the proof is the proof..."