Thursday, May 29, 2008

Stephen Harpers' Italian Job: The self-wacking boss

Stephen Harper wacked himself today, by declaring after a 2 hour meeting the Italian government would free-up troops to fight in Afghanistan, only to have the Italian PM refute this immediately afterwards.

It seems the Canadian PM's European vacation hasn't given him the breathing room he must have hoped for as the Bernier Affair continues to stink-up the House of Commons. That continues to offer revelations of cover-ups, suspicious contracts and feeble but photogenic Ministers of the Crown loudly declaiming any criticism, then shutting up while the Deputy PM defends his government by declaring this is all a matter of personal privacy and national security, so it can not be mentioned in the house.

Canadian affairs, both foreign and domestic, seem to be careening about with little real control. Only the Tory spin doctors seem to be functioning normally. The amateurs don't understand they are a minority, not a oligarchy, and could do with some humility. A two-seat rump worked wonders after the excesses of the Mulroney years.

More Scandals

Another scandal was the Elections Canada raid on Conservative offices that resulted from reported "in-and- outs" in campaign financing. The Tories claim it is a vendetta, although the boss of Elections Canada is a Tory appointee. This follows another case where they asked Elections Canada to ignore the rules of the Canada elections act. Needless to say, the official in question pointed out he could be charged with a felony for doing that. He said he could comply as soon as Parliament voted to change the elections act. The Tories took umbrage but could do nothing.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Amateur Hour continues: Bernier's security breach

Maxim Bernier resigns after one stumble after another. In this case, he left confidential documents at his supposedly former girlfriend's house last month. The documents where high level documents pertaining to NATO plans, leadership and policy.

This man has been defended long after he was obviously incompetent. This speaks to the competence of the Government.

This government should be brought down, as the only example it sets is how Hill & Knowlten would run things.

The Tory's great claim was on national security- a claim that has proven as empty and self-serving as any of their policies. Surely amateur hour must be brought to an end.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Carbon Tax: "Tax what we don't want...

...and don't tax what we do want."
-David MacGuinty

David Suzuki's support of the Liberal plan for a revenue-neutral carbon tax provides a useful endorsement when most pundits are tut-tutting Stephan Dion. This two-bit condescension from the press is damaging to efforts to create long-term policies that will benefit Canadians . The reception by the pundits up to now reflects a cheap analysis of the attitudes of the Canadian electorate. Those that oppose the Carbon tax won't vote for anyone but the Tories, anyway. And that is a rather small rump centered in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Nobody wants to pay more taxes; But most people are not foolish enough to buy into the fairy-tale that we'll solve all are problems Next Year. The environment needs action now, but the laissez-faire attitude of Canada's New Government regarding pollution( but not sex, they want to legislate that) reveals a policy of eat, drink and make money and "to hell with you Jack, I'm alright" that provides no long term answers.

With current popularity putting the Tories slightly ahead of the Liberals(33% to 31% a figure that follows the averages for almost 18 months now), a Federal election over the environment, rather than the Conservatives' general incompetence, cynicism and immaturity would play to the strengths of the opposition parties. Of course, the Conservatives' ability as sophomoric debaters shouldn't be discounted if the election is portrayed as a horse race, rather than a serious confrontation of policy and direction for Canada.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A list of conservative scandals, faux pas' and policy debacles

It seems the free spending Tories can't coerce the Canadian Armed Forces;

Defence plan to cost $50-billion over 20 years

Lieutenant-General Walter Natynczyk, Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff, said the military would spend between $45-billion and $50-billion on planes, combat vehicles, ships and fighters under the Canada First Defence Strategy, the Conservative government's plan for the military that was originally released Monday without comprehensive details.
This is more than double the cost announced by PM Stephen Harper and Defense Minister Peter MacKay

Bernier Updated!

Foreign Affairs Minister Maxim Bernier dates woman with a taste for Bikers. If this fact wasn't noticed by the Hell's Angels, I and most security professionals would be very surprised. This kind of access is second only to actually putting a government official on the payroll. Was she checked for security? What was Bernier thinking? The Tories say it's nobody's business. However, people working in the canadian ports have their spouses checked.
It turns out Mde. Couillard's ties to the bikers were deeper than the government knew. Bernier's former relationship became political fodder once again Friday after Montreal's La Presse newspaper reported that Julie Couillard lived with a man with ties to the Hells Angels three years ago.

Maxim Bernier says repeatedly that the governor of Helman province should be replaced. Aside from being a an amateurish faux pas of meddling in a country's internal politics, in Afghanistan this talk could lead to civil war, as the Governors are usually warlords with only cynical loyalty to the central government. A suggestion that one would be deposed could easily lead to violence against both the central government and Canadian forces deployed in Afghanistan.

Pierre Poilievre defended the use of "in and out" funding to allow the Conservatives to break spending rules. Subsequently, several candidates reported they had been told to say nothing and everything would be "ok". The Tory response was to blame Elections Canada for launching a vendetta, this despite the fact the head and deputy of Elections Canada were appointed by Stephen Harper.

Tom Lukiwski stands up in the house of commons to apologise for egregious slurs against gays recorded on video tape some years ago. This perpetuates the feeling that the Conservatives are the party of intolerance.

Chalk river nuclear plant is shut down for ongoing safety violations. Ministers Tony Clement and Gary Lunn claim that the head of Nuclear safety in canada was being over-zealous. Another case of the Conservatives asking a civil servant to break the rules set down by Parliament. This was to cover their own incompetence at supervising the supply of nuclear isotopes and the safety of nuclear reactors.

An audio recording suggests the conservatives had offered money to Independent(and former Conservative) MP Chuck Cadman not to run. Since Mr.Cadman died shortly afterwards, there is no proof, just Prime Minister Harper saying offers had been made. What those offers were is not clear, although Cadman's wife, who is currently a Conservative candidate, said and subsequently denied that money had been offered.Now why would she change her story?

The Tory policy of opposing gay marriage fell apart(thankfully) when it became apparent that gay marriage is a matter of Provincial jurisdiction. Ostensibly the Tories should've known that this policy was hopeless, but they also knew it would pander to their base. It seemed that they benefited from a measure of intolerance.

As soon as the Conservatives took power, they accepted Liberal turn-coat David Emerson who crossed the floor to become the Trade minister. This after Stephen Harper declared that MP's shouldn't be allowed to join another party, but to run under the banner of their new party first. Apparently this doesn't apply to people who would join the Tories.

I'll update this post when I have time to chronicle the mess in the committees, where law and policy are made, if all the parties try to be civil(the Tories have reduced partisanship to the equivalent of school yard bullying and name-calling). I'll recount another brouhaha where the Tories asked Elections Canada to break the rules rather change them. This view, that the Government can arbitrarily change or ignore laws voted on by parliament, is remarkably adolescent. Despite several years in the house of commons the Tory caucus still seems to think that Canadians vote in a dictatorship and that the two thirds of citizens that didn't vote for the tories deserve no representation.

I'm not the only one who thinks this tally of scandals is long for a government in power for just over two years.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Dumb-ass Crackers support Clinton

The West Virginia primary is expected to go to Hillary Clinton. This is because she garners much support from white, working class voters without a college degree and old white farts. The same folks who voted for George Walker Bush. Yet Obama worked hard to help people who weren't rich. Hillary supported Barry Goldwater. And Sen. Clinton went to private schools- she earned her scholarships, but she didn't need them.

Obama gets his funding from a myriad people, a few dollars at time- he doesn't have to rely on a few rich, powerful donors. Sen. clinton relies on one rich, powerful donor- herself.

Why do people vote for people who couldn't care less about them? huh, Why?!! I want an Answer, Damn It!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Rob Lutes with Mike O'brien at the Black Sheep Inn

A big shout out to Rob Lutes who played a great set at the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield, Québec last sunday. He's been playing with Rob MacDonald- a fine bandleader himself- for over ten years.
Macdonald says"It's almost like being married".

As musicians, they are almost like guitar Vishnu's- one super being with many hands playing together. This tightness helps propel Lute's songs, especially in a live setting, to an exceptionally passionate level.

Opening was Michael James "Mike" O'Brien a young Montréal-based singer songwriter. His deep baritone anchors his personality through the broad range of styles he embraces as a song writer. Highly recommended.

Monday, May 05, 2008

teach a man...

Give a man a fish, and you've fed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and he'll never show up for work.
-Groucho Marx? Kurt Vonnegut? Anon?

Build a man a fire and he is warm for a day. Set him on fire and he is warm for life.

-Jerry Pournelle

"If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country."
-E.M. Forster