Saturday, March 3, 2007

John Baird -- our meat eatin', oil burnin' Environment Minister

Congratulations Mr. Baird, your night out on the town has shown us that you truly take the environment seriously. After all, you may have been caught red handed by a Liberal spy eating at Baton Rouge in Ottawa while his van was outside running -- for two hours (see Jane Taber's Political Notebook in the Globe for more details). But what our intrepid operative didn't know was that Mr. Baird's van actually runs on 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline which makes it perfectly acceptable to leave running.

In fact, it's my understanding that Mr. Baird may have been given special dispensation by his righteous and most honorable leader Mr. Harper. My theory is that Mr. Harper is trying to reign in spending my his Ministers and has given them a per diem. And he has also instructed them to leave their cars running while eating at restaurants in case they exceed their budget and have to make a hasty exit, if you get my meaning. Given this context Mr. Baird's actions seem quite reasonable.

Actually I think, Baird might be onto something bigger. I mean, like me, he's no spring chicken and he doesn't have any kids. So what the hell do we care about what the world looks like in 50 years. Screw the environment, let's live for today! Mr. Baird, if you can pass legislation giving all Canadians a GST rebate for Hummers, you've got my vote in the next election. And if we're all going to have Hummers you better get to work on ramping up oils sands production. And once we're done with the environment maybe you can start working with your old buddy Mr. Flaherty to help us emerging high net wealth families to really get over the top. Thanks a bunch! Hope to hear from you soon.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Pierre Poilievre redux

Rick Mercer is right (Liberal Party a Haven for Terrorists). The jig is up. The Liberal party really is just a haven for extremist groups, and Stephane Dion is just their puppet -- literally. I mean that would explain his somewhat wooden delivery of late. Clearly he's been programmed by the extremists to put forward their pro-terrorist agenda.

Canada has the brilliance of the "hardest working man in politics" (as voted by his peers) to thank for these revelations. That's right the member from Nepean-Carlton, Pierre Poilievre. His brilliance among the Conservative firmament is self evident -- after all the Mr. Harper uses most of his caucus as props. So, simply by virtue of the fact that he is allowed to utter complete sentences proves his high standing.

There is one thing though. His assertion that there are people in the Liberal caucus who want to legalize Hezbollah, a terrorist organization from south Lebanon, is simply not correct. The group the Liberals really want to legalize is Hezbooty a talent agency from south Central L.A. This group has been responsible for all of the big round booties that have been plaguing rap and hip hop videos for several years now. Clearly this is an abomination that Canadians can't stand for -- the Liberals must be stopped at all costs!

Pump up the rhetoric!

In his column today in the Star, James Travers accuses both Dion and Harper of descending to the worst depths of electoral partisan politics (PM, Dion dumb down public discourse). I think he may have a point. While Mr. Dion and the Liberals have been forced into a situation of having to defend themselves, by counter-attacking the opposition on a variety of issues, using that tactic on the environment, is a dangerous proposition, given the Liberal's own history, and the potential that the Conservative's may throw enough money at the problem to appease voters.

A better plan may be to continue to pressure the Conservatives to produce a plan of there own. Early indications are that the Cons will stick to a plan that focuses on intensity targets through 2012 and not requiring significant caps until at least 2020. The Liberals should then be prepared to provide the framework for their plan, and at least a swag on the true economic cost of sticking to an intensity strategy. This is better than descending into the same fear-mongering that Mr. Harper seems so good at. I for one believe that most people will respond more positively to reasoned argument, than the Rove style insinuation, lies and propaganda that the Conservatives embrace.

The one key point that Mr. Travers made that I think is critical for Mr. Dion if the Liberals fortunes are to turn around, is that he must be able to articulately explain his positions (on anti-terrorism, the environment, etc.) to Canadians. I think he did a reasonable job of this in the leadership debate. Since then he has struggled.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Andrew vs. Kim, old vs. older

Andrew Coyne's column (Liberal vs Liberal, grown-up vs child) in today's National Post, and reprinted on his blog contends that the debate over the now defeated Anti-terrorist Act provisions is really a fight "between its grown-up wing and, well, its Karygiannis tendency". The "grown-up" elements in the equation are those like Irwin Cotler, whose legal credentials and role as the director of McGill University’s Human Rights Program. Coyne's contention is that the fanatical "juvenile" wing of the party is ascendant in the Liberal party, and is having a negative impact on the Party's fortunes. I couldn't disagree more.

As Mr. Coyne points out times have changed, within the Liberal party and the country as a whole. But he is wrong in believing that this not a debate between security and freedom. Or that this is purely a debate that purely resides within the Liberal party.

The very fact there is turmoil within the Liberal caucus is a sign of a healthy democratic process -- as opposed to the autocratic approach that has defined the Conservative government during its short tenure.

In 2001 all Canadians were shocked by the events which transpired that led to the deaths of many innocent civilians -- some of them Canadians. More recently Canadians again were shocked by the violation of human rights by the U.S. government in the Arrar case. Times have changed and Canadians (and many Americans) are coming to the realization that such repressive measures undermine the very fabric of our democracy.

Mr. Coyne may be right that civil liberties have not withered but extending the provisions carte blanche, as the Conservatives demanded until the 11th hour, might have resulted in putting civil rights at risk. They were never used so we don't know. But in reading the provisions, it seemed to me that having an Attorney General who was open to "liberal" use of the provisions is all that we would need. And given the Conservatives hard line approach to law and order generally, it does not seem out of the realm of possibility that they would test the boundaries that the law allows.

And while I'd agree that for the most part the Investigative Hearings provision seems to have adequate protections (although I haven't yet been able to find sections 132 and 136, which are essentially the exception clauses), the Recognizance with Hearings provision is another matter.
While Mr. Coyne is correct in stating that suspects can only be held for 72 hours before being taken before a judge, he doesn't mention that the judge can order either a suspect or a witness detained based on the evidence provided by the arresting officer. Detention can be for up to 12 months. Then there's also a catchall that allows for detention for "any other just cause" (see sub-sections 6 and 7).

Given these facts I can't understand how Mr. Coyne (and the Conservatives) can so glibly dismiss the concerns over civil rights. Extending provisions that are open to abuse in the wrong hands should be of concern and warrant thoughtful consideration and debate, especially considering the current "tough on crime" and "tougher on terror" regime.

So yes, Mr. Coyne, times have changed. Hopefully the pendulum is swinging back to a time when reason and common sense will prevail over fear and intimidation.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Dion on the Hour

Saw Monsieur Dion on The Hour tonight. Pretty good. The opening bit ("liberal media panders to Liberals") was funny, sort of. Dion was pretty good at articulating his plan and how this differs to what Harper is up to. One thing though. This guy has got to learn to loosen up. We'd forgive the butchered English if you'd only get a sense of humour dude!

I saw Stephen Harper on Best of Rick Mercer, and at least he knows how to play the straight man. Actually, my wife thinks I need a humorostomy as well so if you're interested Mr. Dion, maybe we could sign up for some classes or take one night a week to go to an open mike.

Pierre Poilievre -- the frat boys choice

So it seems that Pierre Poilievre is the Conservatives new celebrity spokes model. He's a young, freshly minted, hard working Conservative MP from Nepean-Carlton, the successor to Conservative superstar John Baird.

Really, his rise to fame and glory, capped by his outstanding performance on CFRA last Friday (Partial transcript of Poilievre interview is at the Star) should come as a surprise to know one. After all he is a product of that bastion of higher learning, the University of Calgary, which also spawned the member from Calgary Southwest, Stephen Harper. I can almost imagine Stevie, beaming with pride, as he sponsors "Pete" ("no Frenchie names here thank you") to his very own fraternity. Or hearing of one of "Pete's" many victories on the campus debating team. His rise to fame and glory was confirmed following his rubbing shoulders with rock star hotties Coldplay. No one can resist a politician who's got a rock star for a friend, just ask Pierre Trudeau.

What I'd really like to know is who the hell elected this ponce in the first place. I mean it's not like he comes with some kind of relevant experience, or any experience at all. This really is pretty much his first job. He should be making copies, or organizing direct mail campaigns or getting coffee for Stevie. Or maybe that's what the Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board really does.

Well you can take the frat boy of college but it seems getting the "frat" out of the boy is a bit more difficult at least judging by some of his antics since he's been elected. Here's an excerpt from Pierre's bio on Wikipedia.

Unparliamentary Behaviour
In May 2006, Poilievre's interest in the British rock group
Coldplay caused him some unwanted attention when Liberal MP, Marcel Proulx accused him of accepting a concert ticket to see the band perform in Ottawa. It was later confirmed that while Poilievre was a guest in the venue's VIP box, he did pay for his own ticket along with
other entertainment expenses including transportation and refreshments—spending
over $350 during the evening.

Poilievre was caught on tape using foul language directed at colleagues in a committee meeting,[3] and making unparliamentary arm gestures and was accused of mocking the Speaker of the House of Commons [4] [5] in June 2006. Poilievre later apologized for making gestures within the Commons;[6] no apology has been made for unparliamentary language within Committee.

Also in June, 2006, Poilievre's behaviour within the Legislative Committee on Bill C-2 was sharply criticized by opposition members as "insulting" following exchanges
between himself and a witness giving testimony—a point of concern that was recognized and cautioned by the Committee chair.

Editorials in the Ottawa Citizen have presented similarly critical commentary on Poilievre's behaviour. On June 14, 2006, the terms “crass exhibitionism”, “vulgarity on the airwaves”, “spectacle of law-makers behaving like frat-boys” and undisciplined stupidity” were used to describe Poilievre's behaviour. On June 16, 2006, one commentator wrote that "he is eroding public respect for Parliament."[8]

Based on his performance in the past on I'm not sure if I'd even trust him to get my coffee -- I'd always be wondering what he put in it. His constituents must certainly be proud of his CFRA performance, however. The culmination of a short but already distinguished political career. What I'd really like to know is if an idiot like this can get elected how are we supposed to instill confidence in the political system with Canadians?

Monday, February 26, 2007

With respect Mr. Prime Minister, sphincter says what?

Well, the weekend has come and gone, but the furor around the Stephen Harper's comments regarding Navdeep Bains shows no signs of abating ("Harper says there was no Bains leak"). Meanwhile, the related issue of extension of the Anti-terrorism Act provisions, seems almost certain to expire at the end of the month ("No deal on anti-terror measures").

Mr. Harper (I just can't bear referring to him as the "Prime Minister" any more) continued with his bullying ways in question period today, accusing the opposition of attacking the RCMP's integrity by questioning the source of of the information regarding Mr. Bains' father-in-law. In my opinion, this seems to be exactly the right thing to do in light of the legislation that is being debated here. If the intent of the provisions is to ensure secrecy of the proceedings (including the investigation, you would assume), and there is a concern about the violation of citizen rights, then the fact that there was a leak should be of concern and should be raised.

Here's another thing that I have a problem with. On the one hand Mr. Harper was accusing the Liberals failure to support extension of the provisions was based on protecting Navdeep Bain's father-in-law from appearing as a potential witness. There was also the conjecture last week that, Bains, a new Liberal backbencher, could have this kind of influence because of the support he was able to deliver to Mr. Dion during the Liberal leadership convention. In essence this would amount to allowing policy decisions to be made by special interest groups.

But hold on a second. Isn't that exactly what Mr. Harper did last week in mounting his defense of extension of the provisions? Wasn't it last Thursday that he appeared with the victim's families association of the Air India attack? Wasn't his argument that the Liberals should support extension of the provisions because the victims families position that the provisions were critical for continuation of the investigation. While the victims families have every right to want to see justice done after 22 year, grieving, frustrated and angry relatives are maybe not the best group to make judgements that will best serve the country as a whole. And it is very unfortunate that Mr. Harper dragged the victim's families into the middle of what has turned into a toxic witches brew.

But then, that's Mr. Harper's style. Do whatever it takes to consolidate his hold on power and put forward his agenda. An agenda, that as we move closer to an election, looks increasingly like the one that progressives were afraid of. And one that confirms many of our initial concerns of Mr. Harper. So, again, I respectfully ask the member from Calgary Southwest, sphincter says what?