Brief News, and Two Links Worth Looking At ...

Sorry for the silence around here. I have been crazy-busy at work, and since the election has been postponed, it seemed like an even better idea than usual to focus on what pays the bills.

Plus, my mom & dad were in town over the weekend. On Friday, my wife and I took Dad to a baseball game. It figures that Friday was the night that the Jays decided to stink up the joint, but it was still a blast to finally attend a major-league game with the guy that got me interested in baseball (and the Cleveland Indians!) to begin with.

Still on the family scene, last night we took the folks out to celebrate their anniversary, a few days early since on the actual date they'll be back on their way to God's country. They tied the knot in 1969, which means that as of 31 May, they will have been married 36 years ... man alive, that's really something. Sometimes the best sources of inspiration are those closest to home.

Anyway, on the political scene, here are a couple of interesting articles to get you thinking (and hopefully, commenting).

1. This one from the Globe is interesting, despite the rather slanted headline. Personally, I think Hugh Segal gets it right: a political party that closes its doors to people of faith - or that demands those people check their beliefs at the door in order to gain admittance - is on the wrong track. If "freedom of religion" - and for that matter, "freedom of speech" - is to mean anything, it's not enough to say that people of faith will not be persecuted. They must be allowed to advance their views within the democratic process. I believe that with all my heart, even if my religious faith is somewhat different from many so-called "so-cons".

That said, if you join a political party and seek to represent it, you are obliged to sign on to that party's platform. Now, you do not have to agree with that platform 100%, and you can - or should - be able use the structures of the party to attempt to change that platform. But if you're going to be a CPC candidate, that means you follow the CPC position. If the CPC has decided that it will not introduce abortion legislation - and it has - then you have a choice: Accept that the Party has chosen this position, and live with that decision (unless/until you and others are able to persuade the Party to change it), or find another political banner to run under.

2. This is from Reason, a US libertarian-friendly journal. It deals with the UK Conservative Party ... but maybe you will see some similarities that can be applied to the domestic scene. I'll have more to say on this another time (hopefully soon!).

More later.


Honey, I'm Home!

Back from my trip ... say, wasn't there some sort of vote last Thursday? Anyone know what happened while I was gone?

Well, looks like our election campaign is going to last a little longer than I hoped. I'll have more to say about that & other items when I get caught up at work.

Till then .....

More later.


Testing, One Two ... Would You Please Speak Into the Mic Under My Shirt, Minister?

Ever walk out the front door, lock it, and then, just as you're about to head for the car, you hear the 'phone ringing? You should ignore it, but at least some of us can't seem to fight the urge to open the door, run inside and grab the damn thing.

Same thing here. As the post below indicates, I was about to head out for the holidays, when I happen to surf on over to CTV.ca, and what do I find?


Good Lord.

I honestly don't have time to do this story justice now, but I did listen to the recording, and I listend to Ujal D's scrum. Yeah, I'm biased, but it doesn't exactly sound like Ujal's spin matches what was said on the tape.

Maybe Canadians are beyond being outraged; maybe nobody will care; maybe the story will peter out, for one reason or another.

But here we have the PM's fixer-in-chief telling a duly elected Member of Parliament that if he abstains tomorrow evening, it'll be time to talk about when he gets his Senate seat.

If this sort of blatant behaviour doesn't get Canadians royally ticked - and I mean ticked - I have to ask: What in God's name will?

And now, I really must be going.

More later.

Back In a Bit!

Doesn't it just figure that this little corner of the internet is "going dark" for a few days while your humble author goes out of town just as the excitement reaches a fever pitch?

Well, unfortunately, that's just the way it is. A pre-planned trip to see the family over the Victoria Day long weekend isn't something to sneeze at, no matter what antics we'll see out of Paul, Stephen, Jack, Lucien and, of course, David & Chuck. By the time I get back, we may be "fist and eyes" into an election ... or we may be getting ready to take a siesta on the election talk until the fall, or even next year.

Don't worry, there will be plenty of good commentary on the web ... and you can find links o'plenty to same on the right hand side of the page. I'm sure there will still be lots to talk about when I get back.

See you Tuesday!

More later.

While it will undoubtedly be burried in the Stronach coverage, Harper is actually playing the budget votes the right way. The CPC will support the budget in its pre-Buzz form (which includes the Atlantic Accord), but will not support the result of Liberal-NDP shenanigans.

There is now no reason for Paul Martin to let Jack Layton drive the budget bus, because with CPC support, he can get his original budget passed. If Martin insists on forcing the NDP amendments through, the Conservatives can knock them down - and let Martin wear the consequences.

If anyone - anyone - important in the CPC is reading this, please repeat the following until it sinks in: The original budget can pass, with CPC support. Paul Martin does not need to let Jack Layton hijack the budget. If he does, it is on his own head.

More later.

When He's Right, He's Right ...

A quote from Stephen Harper, who has probably had better days than yesterday, from this story:

"They stood by Danny Williams, they stood by Newfoundland, they always will," Harper said.
"And it's about time Danny Williams stood by some of his boys too, because that's the only way Newfoundland and Labrador is going to get anywhere in this country."

Ok, the language is ... intemperate. And NL has gotten "somewhere" in this country and in this big ol' world already, thanks, although there is more to do - just like there is in every other part of Canada.

But the point is valid. Even when Danny was aggravating the rest of the country - including many conservatives - by hauling down the Canadian flag, Norm Doyle and Loyola Hearn kept on pushing the Martin government to come across with its commitment.

The last thing the CPC needs is more sniping from its alleged supporters. Danny Williams - whom I continue to believe is, on balance, doing an excellent job as premier - should save his broadsides for the Liberals.

More later.

Ok, So It Wasn't a TOTAL Wipe-Out ...

... But a Win's a Win!

Well, in a result that brightened my mood at least somewhat, the BC Liberals were re-elected last night.

It wasn't the rout that I, quite honestly, had hoped for, and there is no doubt that the NDP has the wind back in its sails. I honestly did not follow this campaign as closely as ones previous, but as near as I can tell, the NDP tacked towards the centre somewhat - relatively speaking, of course. If so, it appears that the gesture worked. Well, if an invigorated opposition keeps the BC Liberals honest, there are worse things that could happen.

But still and all, despite engaging in some radical steps early in their mandate (shades of the Common Sense Revolution in Ontario), the Liberals were re-elected, with at least some representation in every region, according to this summary. Odds are good that you already know that the BC Liberals are not the kissing cousins of Paul Martin's crew, but just in case you're reading this from abroad (hey, it's possible!), in BC politics tend to be polarised between one centre-left coalition (the NDP) and one centre-right coalition (formerly Social Credit, now the BC Liberals), although please note that this is a broad generalisation, especially with the BC Green Party getting almost 10% of the vote. In this case, the centre-right crew was re-elected, albeit with a smaller majority.

I was disappointed to see that the "STV" referendum was apparently defeated. It isn't that I felt passionately about STV, but it would have been interesting to see it applied in BC, so that Canadians in general could evaluate it and decide if it, or something like it, should be applied nationally.

Anyway, like I said in a previous post, I spent 3 very good years in Vancouver, and I still have some good friends out there. All in all, the re-election of the BC Libs is good for the province, and sets a good national example.

And hey, anything that distracted me - however briefly - from the highjinx of the "Blonde Ambition" tour can't be all bad.

More later.


A Week Really IS A Long Time in Politics ...

Quick thoughts for now, because I'm stuck doing some last-minute projects at work.

* It seems like only yesterday that Belinda thought that Paul Martin's did not deserve the confidence of the House. Well, it wasn't yesterday ... but it was a week ago. Talk about "time flies" ...

* First, David Peterson screws up badly enough to put Bob Rae and his crew in charge of Ontario for 5 long years. Now he acts as midwife to Belinda's Liberal ministerial career. For God's sake, David, enough already!

* Fellow blogging tory Stephen Taylor is your one-stop shop for reminders of all sorts of things that Belinda probably wishes she never said (although I expect that her "shame quotient" will probably drop to Brison-esque levels soon enough).

* Just in case you thought all the class acts were on the Liberal side of the House, NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis proves that we won't have to worry about Ed Broadbent-style decency amongst the Dippers once he retires. From the end of this story on the Globe's website:

Some MPs couldn't resist a giggle at Mr. MacKay's expense. Ms. Stronach's departure is a blow to him personally and to the Conservatives as they strive to appear election-ready.

The spurned MP appears to be “unlucky at love and unlucky at politics,” said New Democrat Judy Wasylycia-Leis.

Nice, Judy. I guess any divorces, separations, and the like amongst your fellow New Democrats are now fair game, eh? (Of course they are not "fair game", so don't go posting any rumours of marital/relationship difficulties amongst the NDP set, but it is too bad that Judy doesn't see things that way.)

* And speaking of the NDP, the one thing that will (hopefully) brighten up this rather gloomy day in politics is a good old fashioned trouncing of the heirs of Glen Clark in BC. I went to law school in BC from '94 to '97, in the NDP's "prime", including their winning-a-majority-despite-getting-fewer-votes performance in the '96 election. I'm sure that the NDP will do better than the 2 lousy seats they won in '01, but it's wonderful to see a situation where the NDP winning > 20 seats out of the 79 in play would be seen as a comeback, and not a disaster.

(Of course, given how today is going, I fully expect to have to get used to saying "Premier Carol" tomorrow morning.)

More Later.

Well, well, well ...

So I thought this morning that the worst political news out there today was the pressure on Norm and Loyola, as set out below.

Looks like I was wrong.

Wonder if she'll get a seat next to Brison?

More later.

Norm & Loyola

On the front page of today's Post (the link doesn't appear to be behind a subscribers-only wall, for now at least) is a story about Norm Doyle and Loyola Hearn, and the fix they're in over the budget.

Basically, the enabling legislation for the NS-NL-Canada deal over offshore oil royalties (commonly called the "Atlantic Accord") has been tied into the overall budget legislation. Despite various efforts, the Liberals (and, as far as I can tell, the Liberals alone) have stymied efforts to move the Atlantic Accord out of the budget, and treat it as a separate item.

Apparently, such machinations are a-ok when the Liberals' corporate tax cuts are at risk, but not insofar as the Atlantic Accord is concerned.

So, Norm Doyle and Loyola Hearn are in a hell of a fix. If they vote down the budget, they risk losing their seats. If they don't, they could end up ensuring the survival of the Liberal government until at least the fall.

Full disclosure: While I am not that important at all in the grand Tory scheme of things, I do know both Norm and Loyola fairly well. Indeed, before moving to Hogtown, I was on Norm's riding association in St John's East. So aside from my political biases, I have a personal interest in their fate.

Even leaving that aside, their loss would be felt by the CPC. Loyola, who served as one of the 3 PC Party "ambassadors" during the merger negotiations with the CA, would be a shoo-in to be a minister in any future CPC government.

Norm, while having a lower profile in Ottawa, is the current CPC caucus chairman and epitomises the definition of a "good constituency man", and has a savvy political instinct. (One example: as a former NL provincial MHA and cabinet minister, Norm has a fairly hefty provincial pension. Ever since getting elected in '97, he has donated that pension to various charities. It was/is the right thing to do, and it didn't exactly hurt him politically, either.)

I empathize with their situation. Leaving aside the partisan fallout, the Atlantic Accord provides a significant amount of promise for both NL and NS. For years, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians (and presumably, Nova Scotians) have seen our natural resources used for short-term political purposes, rather than as a foundation for long-term success. The near-death of the inshore fishery is one result (although to be fair, there were a number of factors involved in that crisis). The money that NL and NS will see as a result of the accord can, as I've indicated in my "King John" post below, be used to address some of these systemic problems.

I truly believe that the Atlantic Accord could be our best, if not our last, chance to make structural, long-term changes to NL to ensure that it thrives, rather than simply survives, in the future. Many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians feel the same way, which is why there was so much support for Danny Williams's campaign last December/January, even if the "flag flap" outraged Canadians elsewhere.

So, what do Norm and Loyola do? As much as it kills me to say this, knowing the trouble it may cause, I would have to suggest that they vote to defeat this budget. Why?

1. Even if this budget dies, the Libs, CPC and the NDP have all pledged their support to the Altantic Accord. This is not a government priority that won't be re-introduced if the Tories win the election.

2. The budget has been twisted from something that the CPC could support (even at some political cost), to a Jack-and-Buzz document. It's one thing to compromise; it is another thing to completely abandon the principles that your party stands for.

3. To allow this budget to stand will likely result in giving Paul Martin at least a few more months to run across the country with his chequebook, as he abuses (in my opinion) his office during an unofficial 8-month long election campaign.

4. They say that the truth is the first casualty of war, and that goes for politics, too, but here are a few facts: (a) The Altantic Accord issue could have been dealt with years ago; John Hamm in particular has been banging this drum for a long time. (b) Paul Martin could have honoured his election promise earlier in his mandate - instead, he had to be pushed and pushed hard by a number of sources, including Norm and Loyola and the rest of the CPC caucus. (c) Once the Atlantic Accord was signed, it didn't have to be bundled into the budget. (d) As the corporate tax issue shows, just because something is in the budget now, doesn't mean it can't be "un-bundled" and dealt with separately; only Liberal cunning and intransigence is preventing this issue from being dealt with now. If there's any justice, these facts will be trumpeted "loud and long", and will begin to sink in.

Now, it's easy for me, sitting in front of a computer in Toronto, to pontificate. I know that. (Not like it's stopped me or anyone else on the internet from pontificating, but in any event ...) Norm and Loyola have been in this business as active players longer than I have been a mere observer. They will make their decisions, and things will play out however they play out as a result.

But even though it may be cold/no comfort, I can empathize with the fix they are in. This is what Liberals do - put people in a politically hot corner, and force them to choose between 2 bad options - and they are very good at it. If Norm and Loyola decide to run the risk of punishment at the polls to vote down a bad budget, and to remove a poor government - well, my respect, and the respect of other conservatives, probably won't help, but that respect will have been well earned.

More later.


Question for Wiser Minds & Better Memories ...

Here's a l'il clip from the Globe website. It's actually a verbatim quote from Jefe Martin himself:

The Conservatives a month ago said they supported the budget, and they enabled the budget itself to pass. Then all of a sudden a couple of weeks ago, they went back on their word. So what we're really saying is, look, you can take the government down at any time. For heaven's sakes, pass this budget," Mr. Martin said in Newfoundland Friday morning, where he was making a day-care announcement.

Can someone point me to an actual, honest-to-goodness quote or press release or position paper or something that says the Tories withdrew their support for the budget before Jack Layton & Buzz Hargrove got to re-write it?


More Later.

An Update From the "Credit-Where-Credit-Is-Due" Department ...

In case you couldn't guess, praise for the NDP is not exactly flowing like a river around here. But this deserves some credit. In case you can't read that column by J Ibbitson because it's behind a subscriver wall, this link to CTV should do the trick as well.

Anyway, the gist of it is this. The NDP has suggested that the parties "pair" their MP's. What does that mean? Well, it's something we adopted from the Mother Parliament. It means that if an MP from Party 'A' knows that he or she can't be there in time for a particular vote, an arrangement is made with Party 'B' (and 'C', and 'D', and so on) to keep an MP from their caucuses out of the House when the vote is taken. The end result is that everybody has the same number of missing MP's (assuming that the missing MP's are known of in advance, of course).

So let's say Liberal Minister John Efford, who is undergoing treatment for diabetes, and CPC MP Darrell Stinson, who is undergoing treatment for cancer, can't be there. Under this example, the BQ and the NDP would each keep one of their MP's out of the House when the vote is called.

It looks like the CPC is going along with this, and they should. I don't know if the Libs and the BQ are willing to play ball, but if they are not, they would have some explaining to do. Of course, it bears remembering that the Libs refused to agree to pairing back in '79 when ol' Joe C. was toppled, but perhaps they're willing to be more reasonable now.

Of course, there are 2 flies in the ointment:

1. One or more of the "paired" MP's could renege on the deal, and scuttle in just in time to vote. While possible, the party or parties that broke the deal would, I suspect, be in a fair bit of PR trouble, to say the least.

2. We have one ill Indep. MP who possibly can't be there for health reasons - Chuck Cadman. I've tried to think of a way in which he could be fairly paired, but I can't. The good news is, it appears that Cadman will be able to make it next week, either on Monday (which is when the CPC is proposing a final vote be held) or Thursday (which is what Martin wants).

Anyway, I'm sure there may be other problems with this that wiser heads than mine can imagine, but on its surface, it seems like a reasonable compromise. Well done to the NDP for suggesting it - unless I can figure that they're just doing it to harm the other parites, of course *wink*.

Update: Originally, I thought John Efford was suffering from cancer as well. Turns out it's diabetes, so I've amended this post accordingly. While I'm very glad to hear that he's not suffering from cancer, diabetes is no minor thing, either - as evidenced by the fact that he missed Monday's vote, and is considering retiring altogether. My apologies for the error.

More later.


"2,184 Cases of Beer on the Wall (er, I mean, Road), 2,184 Cases of Beer ..."

Somewhere, Barney Gumble weeps ...

More later.

Would You Buy a Used Car From This Man?

Yes, some of the better blogs out there - Andrew Coyne's, for instance - picked up on this already, but it really knocks my socks off.

The fact that the CPC has pulled ahead of the Libs in the recent CTV/G&M poll is just fine as far as I'm concerned, but I'm not exactly opening up the champagne. It's a long way to go till we vote, the contenders are still within the margin of error, the only poll that counts is election day, & c.

But I am, to use a technical term, somewhat gob-smacked a bit by this (and it takes a a lot for me to be full-on gobsmacked, let me tell you). From the CTV on-line story:

When asked to name which of the leaders is the most dishonest:

  • 63 per cent of Canadians picked Martin;
  • 20 per cent chose Harper;
  • 5 per cent of respondents said NDP Leader Jack Layton; and
  • 3 per cent named Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe.

The picture becomes even bleaker for Martin. A stunning 61 per cent of Canadians say they believe he would lie if it would help him politically; 54 per cent call him hypocritical; while 47 percent say he's indecisive.

Good grief. As AC pointed out (yeah, I tend to borrow/plagiarise more when I'm behind in my real-life work, can't you tell?), these numbers are well outside the margin of error. If anyone would have predicted these sorts of numbers vis a vis Martin before this poll came out, please let me know when you're next going to the track, because I want you to pick my horses.

Now, it is entirely possible that this is one of those rogue polls you hear the kids talking about in school these days - there is, after all, a reason why the good polling companies say something like "The margin of error is X%, 19 times out of 20".

Maybe this is the "20th" poll. But I don't think so. I think people are coming to the conclusion that Paul Martin will do anything, say anything and pay anything to hold onto his job. I think people are also concluding that it's silly for someone who had the Liberal Party in the palm of his hand for years, even before he pushed Jean Chretien out the door, to say that he knew nothing about what was going on.

And here is another problem for Team Martin: Once the media, and/or the public at large, come to a conclusion that you have a major character flaw (or flaws), it is very hard to persuade them to change their minds. Just ask Stockwell Day, or Joe Clark, or John Turner, or Brian Mulroney, or .... well, you get the idea.

Stephen Harper has to deal with this public image problem as well, but this is a case where his aloof attitude can work in his favour. It seems that most Canadians still don't quite have a "read" on Harper yet. This means that he can still define himself, rather than be defined by others. I don't know about you, but I would rather be seen as cold and remote, than be held in contempt or thought of as a crook.

More later.


Lest We Forget ...

Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.
Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

(Yes, this poem is most associated with the First World War, when it was written by a Canadian. But I think it fits nevertheless, don't you?)

Sixty years ago today, the "greatest generation" completed the defeat the greatest menace ever to threaten the world (although we should remember that much more lay ahead - "VJ Day" was months away). They defeated a regime that engaged in the deliberate, well-planned and horrifyingly well-executed genocide of the Jewish race, and that engineered the deaths of millions more.

If you're reading this, odds are good that you weren't directly involved in WW II - but more likely than not, someone in your family was involved, somehow. That "someone" may have been a 19 year old kid, who had to learn how to fight and even kill at an age when most of us were tapping kegs in university; it may have been one of the thousands of women who had to break the existing rules of society and go to work in the munitions factories; it may have been a kid who lived in what you now call the "old country" and who grew up under Nazi occupation; or it may have been a man or a woman with a faint blue number tattooed onto their arm. That "someone" may be your grandfather, or great-grandmother, and that "someone" may still be with you - or they may be gone.

We owe the ones that are gone our love and prayers and memory. We owe the ones that are still here - especially the ones who went "over there" to fight - a decent and dignified existance, without forcing them to go on hunger strikes or wrestle through red tape to get what they deserve. We owe them all a debt of grattitude for dealing with an evil that puts whatever political squabbles we face today far into the shade.

And we owe the same level of support and respect to those who also served Canada and the world in Canada's army, navy and air force before and since.

And we owe it to them all to remember them, and what they did, every day - particularly today, and particularly on 11 November, but not just on those days.

There's all sorts of political matters, and other things, to talk about. But not today.

More later.


(No) Anarchy In The UK ...

Too bad I don't have time to comment on what's going on now here in Canada, but hey, I've got work to do, it's what pays the bills - what can I say.

The count is *slowly* coming in from the UK (unless their server is overloaded, you should be able to get live results here or here). It seems they don't release official results from ridings in dribs and drabs, like we do here. Instead, they wait till the whole count is done within a particular riding. Then, they haul all the candidates onto a stage at a central location, and read off the results.

Given the language flying around these days here, I'm just as glad they don't do it that way here - there'd be fisticuffs aplenty.

Anyway, they're predicting a Labour win. I'm sort of torn on this. Labour has been on-side on the war on terror from the beginning, but at the same time, I don't think I would have a lot of time for their domestic policies. The UK Conservatives are the opposite: I would likely support most of their domestic policies, but they keep trying to "pull a Kerry" on the war. And while Tony Blair isn't my ideal choice, it's not as if the Brits are re-electing Michael Foot.

I'm sure I would have ended up voting Conservative, and I'm glad to see that based on exit polls / early results, they'll eat into Tony Blair's majority, perhaps quite significantly - but I'm not exactly heartbroken that Blair appears to have been re-elected.

And here's some great news, regardless of the results: although there were a couple of small explosions at the British consulate in New York City, there were no terrorist-inspired disruptions of the election.

One last thing: isn't it interesting to see that GW Bush, Blair, and Michael Howard have all been returned to office?

UPDATE: You can watch live results from the Beeb via C-Span in the USA here (this link tends to be a bit wonky, so you may need to go to C-Span's main site and go from there.)

More later.


Names Have Been Named ...

Read this.

Commentary to follow shortly (but maybe not till tomorrow).

More later.

Credit Where Credit Is Due ...

This is good news. Well done to all concerned, for showing some respect - and common sense.

More later.


Talk Amongst Yourselves ...

For the hundreds ... ok, dozens ... ok, few ... ok, 3 of you who are awaiting the latest, my apologies. Work has reared its ugly head, but I'll be back as soon as I can.

In the meantime, this is a fun little site ... all the rumours & gossip you can handle regarding who's running where for what party's nomination. Read and enjoy, since some of the stuff there is pretty good.

However, as far as the rumour at the end of this particular post goes, while I can assure you that the Trinity-Spadina Conservatives will be running a for-real campaign, I don't think you'll be seeing any Toronto Sun columnists under our banner (but of course, as the Riding Pres., I'm often the last to know!).

More later.


I've Said It Before ...

... and I'll say it again: this stinks.

I had hoped that all parties, on both sides of the centre aisle in the House of Commons - yes, there is more than enough blame to go around - would show some respect and leave politics out of the VE Day celebrations. The Canadians who fought in WW II deserve better.

I have no idea who "started" this. I know the CPC and BQ had pulled their MP's from the trip, but I also heard that a promise was made not to vote down the government while the ceremonies were going on. Whatever happened, t appears that everyone lost their sense of perspective over this. Surely to God, something could have been worked out.

The soldiers, sailors and airmen who went "over there" - especially those who didn't come home - should be honoured, not caught in the middle of some political tussle.

More later.