Saturday, April 29, 2006

It's coming, but when?

I know they're out there, somewhere, working away diligently. They are careful, practiced at their art, and their skill at what they do is evident in the results they achieve.

Soon, I am sure there will be an SES Research poll or two on where things stand, and I'll know I can trust that one.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Any Word on Priority 0 ?

I seem to recall that Stephen Harper was in a hurry to have the free vote on same sex marriage pretty early in this mandate, even though it isn't one of the official Five Priorities. Maybe he has convinced his base that it would be better to wait on this one; wouldn't want to have a divisive debate on his hands would he? It doesn't look good trying to relegate some citizens back to second class status when you're trying to set yourself up for a majority.

But, it sure would bring out the best in his caucus.

I like Mercer's take on Priority Six.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Thought on Renewal

There's a bit of a parallel between the Liberal party renewal effort and some changes that have happened in the business community over the last half decade or so.

With the increased vigilance against corporate corruption, companies have adopted strict codes of conduct to help protect them from unscrupulous behavior on the part of employees and officers. These codes will usually outline key policies surrounding what constitutes a conflict of interest, expenses, travel, penalties for breaching the code and guidelines for reporting and responding to breaches of the code. For the government of Canada, the Accountability Act will be meant to serve a similar function.

As a suggestion, the Liberal Party might want to consider adopting it's own formal code of conduct. Some might argue that this would be a redundant effort and that it isn't required, but I think it's necessary for proving to Canadians that the Liberal party is going to build a culture of integrity, and that all members of the party take this very seriously.

Another useful aspect is that it would provide explicit guidelines for dealing with adverse events. For example, when the IT scandal investigation began there was some debate over whether or not Ralph Goodale should resign; precedents had been set for and against doing so. A code of conduct could provide guidelines for when a party member should resign, and under what conditions.

The Liberal party, and all members were just as much victims of the actions of a handful of individuals who perpetrated the sponsorship scandal, except that they all shared in the tarnishing that resulted. A code of conduct for the party could allow us collectively to share in the effort of removing that stain.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Ottawa Looks to Review CBC Role

I'm surprised that nobody has picked up on the news that Bev Oda wants to move quickly on a review of the CBC'c mandate.

I'm interested to see what's going to come of this, having heard plenty of complaints from conservatives that the CBC is biased towards the Liberals. I'd be lying if I didn't say that I sometimes thought so myself, but I do think they moved closer to the Conservatives this last election, although nowhere near as much as CTV (I swear they were running the promo clip of Harper and Daniel Cook on every commercial break).

The end of the article does give the impression that the review may not be necessarily negative:

Ian Morrison of Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, said that the Conservatives' policy on public broadcasting has changed significantly since the 2004 election, and since the days of the Canadian Alliance...

...suggesting that the Conservative party's anti-public broadcasting rhetoric had been replaced by support for the CBC and Radio-Canada as Canada's national broadcaster.

Still, I can't help but think that this is the chance for the Tories to try and neuter a part of the 'MSM' that they may have felt at odds with.

We'll see.

No kidding, eh?

So David Emerson has confided with a former associate that he is frustrated being a member of the Conservative government, and that they are too partisan and too tightly controlled:
Behind closed doors, the conservatives are worse partisans than the Liberals ever were... They hate the f---ing Liberals and they're doing everything they can to screw them
Really? I'm at a loss... totally shocked. Not.

Maybe he is going to be Stephen Harper's worst nightmare after all.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

More Respect? Ok.

It's probably that "being from Ontario" thing again, but I seem to be missing the point of these polls: 60 per cent of Albertans don't think the rest of Canada gives the province the respect it deserves.

Well, what do they want this respect to be in the form of? The poll says that 40 per cent of Albertans feel the province has more influence natonally... isn't that enough?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against them getting more respect; I'm all for it... I just don't understand what they're asking for.

Is it the triple-E senate thing? More CBC coverage of the Stampede? Should we just grovel more? How about moving the capital out to Calgary?

If it's about the "lucky Alberta" thing, we can work on that too; hey, good work having your province situated on top an immense supply of one of the most valuable natural resources! (and a shout out to Newfoundland and Labrador for following your lead!)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ok, Maybe it's just me...

... and maybe I'm being petty, but I'm already tired of hearing/seeing the "Stand up for..." slogan being used everywhere possible by Harper and the Conservative government.

All I can say is that it must have polled well in the focus groups, or amongst the Tories themselves; as far as campaign slogans go, it wasn't bad.

However, now it's turning into a slogan for the government, and it's getting trite. Harper peppered his Afghan speech with it, and now it's showing up on the PMO website (Harper's standing up for farmers, and good for them).

Please, do the job, boast if you must, but cut the cheesy slogan. Please.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

On Mud-Slinging and Smear vs. Fact

As usual, reading the blogs one night before turning in, I found an interesting argument going on in the comments section of Jason Cherniak's post "Want to Buy Some Swamp Land?"

I had time to throw in a comment, but not so much to reply to a response that was posted.

In all fairness, I wanted to give it a read and consider it more closely, and fairly.

Now, I count myself as a partisan hack, but one who still would rather weigh the facts, and values truth more than my partisan colours. It's more important to me to have chosen the correct side, than supporting a side. If my team should make a bad call, or policy, or attack, then I'm going to call a spade a spade.

One of the more frustrating aspects of the last election was the repeated slinging of the label of "corruption" at the Liberal government under Paul Martin. It seemed that calling an inquiry into the sponsorship scandal meant nothing to the opposition. It didn't matter that Martin was exonerated of wrongdoing in the final version of the report; still, the label of corruption was applied.

When I asked for proof for a statement that "Paul Martin is certainly no stranger to the ethical and moral gutter.", the point I was making was that the justification for that kind of smear has to be based in some kind of fact, otherwise it's dubious at best, libelous at worst.

The reply that I wanted to respond to was really part of another thread, but the poster, Brandon, also felt it constituted proof of his earlier statement.

Ok, let's have a look: my comments in bold italics

Looking at the context of that flinging mud comment, it's far worse than I thought.

They declared that the constitution was at risk when the Liberals demanded a real non-confidence vote.

Well, I guess the point here is that Martin was insisting that any non-confidence vote should constitute what is considered a non-confidence vote based on the rules of order that govern parliamentary procedure. Not exactly the stuff of the "ethical and moral gutter."

Wow. Where do I even begin with this one.

Let's look back at that shameful little chapter of our nation's history.

Here's how I remember it, in chronological order:

-The Breault testimony bombshell hits, Martin's numbers go into freefall.

-Harper muses about the possibility of bringing down the government, the Liberals respond by canceling opposition days and filibustering their own budget.

-Martin goes on TV to beg for his job, Layton hits he might save him for a price.

Again, nothing so far is really "unethical." Let's agree on one thing: Governments will always try to maintain their status quo; this goes for any party in power. Considering that the plan had been for the government to call an election after the release of the Gomery reports, trying to maintain their position does not constitute an immoral act. We all know the Conservatives wanted to be seen as bringing down the Liberals, and they wanted to do it on their timetable (before the final Gomery report could be released, and it's recommendations adopted).

-Martin ditches tax cuts that his own Finance Minister only days before said were all about "jobs, jobs, jobs," in order to get the NDP to prop up his government.

Hmmm, compromise with the NDP to pass their budget... yeah, pretty slimy. Seriously, the on-going perspective we are getting from Brandon's memory is that Martin and the Liberals shouldn't have been trying to maintain their government, at any costs.

-Inky Mark comes out and says that the Liberals are trying to bribe him into crossing the floor. In denying the accusation, Reg Alcock makes a racist remark about Mark not being in the right "gene pool." I haven't read the hansard on this one, but if it's close to being that bad, then I would probably agree it was out of order; however, we're supposed to be talking about PM here. The point about Inky Mark being offered a cabinet post or ambassadorship is still uncertain, and is technically hearsay until there is some proof. I would agree that based on the events that would transpire next, one could guess there might be some truth to this assertion, but without proof, it's also possible that this could have been an attempt to discredit the Martin Government (ie, what's to stop a third party from placing an anonymous call to an MP to make some veiled offers that will later be blamed on Martin? Sorry, I'll take off the tinfoil hat now).

-The Tories decide they will bring down the government. The Liberals accuse Harper plotting with the Bloc to destroy the country. I think the Tories decided this a bit earlier. As for the Conservative-Bloc conspiracy, I never much cared for that line myself; poor politics, yes... slimy, immoral, unethical... I've seen and heard worse.

-Martin announces that he will be sending Canadians into the Darfur region of the Sudan where a genocide was raging, a desperate attempt to secure the vote of David Kilgour. That's quite the assertion. Even if it were true, is it unethical? If we agree that governments will, and should be expected to try and maintain their position, then wasn't this a good move? Especially considering Harper's own estimation of the value of our participation in Darfur?

-With no other means of expressing it's lack of confidence in the government, the opposition passes a motion instructing a committee of the House to call upon the government to resign.

Martin refuses to acknowledge the vote.

-Another vote is held, which Martin again loses. He still refuses to call an election.

See comments on parliamentary procedure above.

-The opposition, having few other options left, uses its votes to shut down the House for successive days.
Still, Martin refuses to budge.

-Martins minister's go on an announcement, making spending announcements with money they arguably no longer had the constitutionl authority to spend.

Nonsense. Arguably, being the government, they had all the constitutional authority in Canada.

-Martin calls a vote on the budget for the following the Thursday, knowing that a Conservative MP fighting cancer was going to be having surgery on Wednesday.

Only after Ed Broadbent step in does Martin agree to a pairing arrangement.

The Liberals had offered to pair Natural Resources Minister John Efford, who was sick with diabetes.

-Belinda Stronach attends a Conservative election strategy meeting, all the while negotiating for a cabinet post with the Liberals behind the scenes.

-Martin and Stronach finalize the deal. She joins his cabinet the following morning. She is named Minister of Democratic Renewal, the very epitome of irony.

I remember watching bits of the Conservative leadership convention, and thinking that Belinda Stronach's platform was more in line with the Liberal party than the Conservative party. In that sense, I wasn't surprised when the move happened. Was it unethical on Martin's part to arrange this? Considering her family wealth, the argument of any sort of monetary benefit doesn't hold water... so you can only argue that the cabinet position might not have been proper, and on that I think I'd agree. Still, in the realm of the "unethical moral-gutter," I would say this doesn't really compare. At worst, another political action to maintain power.

-Grewal unveils the tapes. It is apparent that the Liberals were also trying to bribe himand his wife to change their votes. They even offered to call off a police investigation if he voted the right way. Their behavior literally borders on criminal. I'm not so sure about Brandon's take on this. Considering that Grewal was wired, you would think he would have had better proof. Instead, the RCMP doesn't implicate anyone. We'll never know if it wasn't an attempt to set up a trap for the Liberals, to punish them for the Belinda Stronach coup.

-Cadman votes with the government. Martin gets a six month reprieve.

The conduct of Martin's government in the spring of 2005 was among the most disgusting chapters in our nation's history.

To even try to defend it by accusing the other side of "mud slinging" is reprehensible.

(Shhhh... nobody tell Brandon about the Beothuk indian genocide, or the internment of Japanese Canadians during WWII) Seriously though, no real proof has really been given for the kind of assertion that "Paul Martin is certainly no stranger to the ethical and moral gutter." That's all I asked for; back up your statement with some fact instead of smear.

Ok, glad I got that out of my system.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Shrewd Move

The Throne Speech was pretty tight, and I have to give credit where it's due; in choosing to make the apology to Chinese Canadians for the 'head tax' a conspicuous part of the speech and presentation (with representatives on-hand), Harper has made a strong appeal to a minority that represents approximately one quarter of the total visible minority population in Canada (based on 2001 census information).

Not only that, the Chinese are most strongly represented in Ontario and B.C., two provinces where the Conservatives would have liked to have had a better showing in the last election, at least in the major urban centres.

It would appear to be a move with the next election in mind.

Ok, Help me out here...

Just heard a bit of Ezra Levant being interviewed on CBC referring to all the "verbal abuse" that the Cretien and Martin Liberals heaped on Western Canada.

Being an Ontarian, I seem to have missed this entirely... must have been snoozing. Can someone give me specific examples? links? Abuse??

Is the rhetoric getting a little ridiculous?

Monday, April 03, 2006

Opening of the 39th Parliament

For what it's worth, here's my guess at the way things are going to unfold:

In the throne speech, there will be just the right amount of lip service to "making Parliament work," but the main focus will be the five priorities; I wouldn't be surprised to hear an admonishment towards the opposition, warning them not to try and derail the Conservative's mandate.

If the Neo-Tories find themselves up in the polls at any time (specifically, on the SES polls), then watch for them to push their platform hard on all fronts; if they fall behind, then they might be a little more cautious. Somehow, I think they are going to govern like a strong minority, and they will risk being brought down if they feel they can put the blame on the opposition parties, and benefit from the backlash.

We'll see.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Anonymous, take off eh?

Just a suggestion, maybe it's time for most Liblogs posters to start limiting the access of 'Anonymous' commentary.

By going to your Settings tab, and then the Comments link, you can change the options/settings on your blogs for commentary.

The best one for limiting the nuisance comments would be the option to 'enable comment moderation; you just have to check your email occasionally and then choose which posts to to allow on the comments section of your blog.

Ok, having posted this, I realize that I'm a big offender when it comes to responding to inane 'Anon' commentary. I just hate the thought of their satisfaction at being able to leave their snide remarks.