Sunday, December 21, 2008

Evaluating Conservative discourse based on The Eight Steps To Genocide

Do the comments made by Stephen Harper and his supporters during the recent political crisis fall under the rubric of hate speech or the incitement of genocide? Do past actions indicate a propensity to escalate discourse to dangerous levels if the stakes are high enough and the likelihood of losing is probable?

In his desperate efforts to hold onto power, Stephen Harper has used inflammatory statements and disingenuous descriptions of the way Parliament works that are highly unfitting for a Prime Minister. These have included stating that his opponents are trying to take power illegitimately.

From the
blog of a columnist who is, along with his paper, generally considered friendly to the Prime Minister (my highlights in italics):
The Conservative radio ad blitz, the boisterous denouncing-Dion rallies and the furious talk show rants will fan the flames of national disunity and elevate voter disgust to effigy-burning levels, but even the expected prorogue stalling tactic might not alter the sad self-inflicted fate of this seven-week-old Conservative government.
By going ballistic against the coalition for being unpatriotic because it had established links to the Bloc Québécois, Mr. Harper shows a convenient memory loss over his own attempts to partner with the Bloc, albeit in a less formal arrangement.
From the commercials mentioned in the blog post:

The Conservatives on Tuesday released radio ads accusing the opposition politicians of attempting to take power "through the back door," their latest sortie in the fight to turn public opinion against the proposed coalition government.

"This is Canada," the announcer in one ad states. "Power must be earned, not taken."...

"In the last election, just a few weeks ago, Canadians overwhelmingly said ‘no' to Stéphane Dion as Prime Minister," the announcer states in one spot. "Now, just a few weeks later, Stéphane Dion is trying to overturn the election he lost and take power through the back door."
Click here to listen to the second ad. A transcript of the ad reads:

In the last election, just a few weeks ago, Canadians overwhelmingly said "no" to Stephane Dion as Prime Minister. Now just a few weeks later, Stephane Dion is trying to overturn the election he lost, and take power through the back door.

Except this time it wouldn't just be Stephane Dion. This time the balance of power would be held by the separatist Bloc. Stephane Dion and the separatist Bloc — shouldn't you get to decide?

A paid message from Canada's Conservatives. ...

UPDATE: Even more succintly, Stephen Harper's Facebook page calls the coalition illegitimate:

It is the opposition’s choice to oppose the government. It is their choice to embrace Quebec Separatists. But not with out a mandate.

The Liberals, NDP and separatist must first face the Canadian voters.
Otherwise any coalition will be an illegitimate regime without any mandate to govern.

Mr. Harper kept up the incorrect references to the Bloc as separatists in his interview with Peter Mansbridge two weeks ago so this must reflect a deliberate tactic. His followers have picked up the thread. Ministers of the government have talked of going over the Head of State implying that the office of the Governor General is illegitimate if they disagree with them.

Based on the overall concept of
Hate Speech in Canada, it is difficult to clearly make the case. If we accept the Wikipedia entry as valid, these comments don't clearly cross the line:
In Canada, advocating genocide or inciting hatred against any 'identifiable group' is an indictable offense under the Criminal Code of Canada with maximum terms of two to fourteen years. An 'identifiable group' is defined as 'any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.' It makes exceptions for cases of statements of truth, and subjects of public debate and religious doctrine.
The Conservatives can claim to have avoided hate speech because their insults are against a political party rather than directly against an identifiable ethnic group and occurred during a political debate. But in situations like this, it is important to be clearly onside. It is sort of like the blue line. When you are well on side or truly off side everyone knows. If you are fooling around near the blue line, you can put yourself off side pretty easily. So it is a bad idea to imply that the elected representatives of an identifiable segment of the population located in a specific location are traitors.

Harper and the Conservatives need to be concerned that an extension of this rhetoric can lead to serious consequences. The world has seen these sort of tactics get out of hand in the past. To underline the seriousness of this it is useful to focus on the early stages of genocide.

1. The early stages of genocide
Genocide Watch, a group whose goal is to
build an international movement to prevent and stop genocide
has published a summary of the eight steps along the path to genocide. (The website is very interesting.)
Genocide is a process that develops in eight stages that are predictable but not inexorable. At each stage, preventive measures can stop it. The process is not linear. Logically, later stages must be preceded by earlier stages. But all stages continue to operate throughout the process.
1. CLASSIFICATION: All cultures have categories to distinguish people into “us and them” by ethnicity, race, religion, or nationality: German and Jew, Hutu and Tutsi....The main preventive measure at this early stage is to develop universalistic institutions that transcend ethnic or racial divisions, that actively promote tolerance and understanding, and that promote classifications that transcend the divisions.
2. SYMBOLIZATION: We give names or other symbols to the classifications. We name people “Jews” or “Gypsies”, or distinguish them by colors or dress; and apply the symbols to members of groups. Classification and symbolization are universally human and do not necessarily result in genocide unless they lead to the next stage, dehumanization.
3. DEHUMANIZATION: One group denies the humanity of the other group. Members of it are equated with animals, vermin, insects or diseases. Dehumanization overcomes the normal human revulsion against murder. At this stage, hate propaganda in print and on hate radios is used to vilify the victim group. In combating this dehumanization, incitement to genocide should not be confused with protected speech....
Examples of these early stages are readily available. For example, this website provides a summary of the incitement of recent episodes of genocide(My emphasis in bold).
Incitement to Genocide
Incitement is a hallmark of genocide, and it may be a prerequisite for it.
Each modern case of genocide has been preceded by a propaganda campaign transmitted via mass media and directed by a handful of political leaders. If such campaigns could be stopped - or their masterminds deterred - genocide might be averted. ...The anti-Croat and anti-Muslim messages transmitted on Serb television were 'very cogent and potent,' ... 'It was a message of urgency, a threat to your people, to your nation, a call to arms, and yes, a sort of instruction to go to war for your people.... It pushed and pushed. It was rather like a sort of hammer bashing on peoples' heads, I suppose.' ... Prime Minister Jean Kambanda (who later entered into a plea agreement in which he admitted to inciting genocide as well as other crimes) gave a speech over RTLM in June 1994, urging the station to continue inciting massacres and calling it 'an indispensable weapon in the fight against the enemy.'
What evidence is there that the Conservatives use, consciously or not, language that could eventually lead to genocide if unchecked?
  • Are there aspects of Canadian society that reflect the first stages of genocide?
  • Is there evidence that the Conservatives are willing to go further along the path towards genocide?
  • Did they use media proxies and official Party outlets to dehumanize opponents?
Stephane Dion, a Liberal leader, that the Conservatives had belittled through millions of dollars of advertizing as being "Not A Leader", who had his loyalty questioned by a member of the Conservative "War Room" because his mother was from France, who was ridiculed for his command of the English language and for being a university professor was systematically dehumanized. The most obvious example was an animation on the Conservative Party website in which a bird defecates on him. This was designed to signal that Dion was less than human. A Youtube of this animation is shown below:

This website also contained a drawing of Michael Ignatieff brandishing an AK 47 in the lower right hand corner of a blackboard. Before a widespread protest caused the website to be taken down, it has been reported that if the image of Ignatieff was clicked on, it would shoot at Dion. (If any one has a citation or copy of such an animation, I would appreciate a link to include in an update). As shown in the last link and here, the website also included a graphic suggesting people had been shooting at Dion and several prominent Liberals.

Towards the end of the campaign,
CTV, a television network that has been the subject of several criticisms of pro-Conservative bias, broke several media ethic rules to broadcast an interview with Dion that paints him as being unable to answer a question in English. This is in spite of Dion's excellent performance in the English debate. The Conservative campaign made certain that the media could have access to Harper to get their point across that Dion does not have sufficient English skills to be Prime Minister.

Some might feel that this is evidence of boys in the war room getting out of hand during the heat of a campaign and is nothing like the examples given. The issues can be fuzzy in the inital stages. But there is a pattern here and if unchecked, how far will they be willing to go?

If there is such a thing as Canadian exceptionalism, it would likely manifest itself in a belief that we live in a peaceable kingdom and are, as a society, immune from the violent tensions that plague other countries. While we are blessed in many ways, Canadians are not free from these human tendencies. Other politicians recognize this and for this reason have restrained themselves, regardless on personal animus and the intensity of the debate, from taking the debate this far.

The government of Stephen Harper is fading away. His dream of reshaping Canada is dissipating with it. He has a choice. He can fight this in the only way he can see open to him; by demonizing segments of the country as traitors and risk taking us further down the road to genocide. Or he can accept the inevitability of his fate and lose with grace. If he decides to fight by inciting hatred, he risks being known around the world as being in the same category as
Kambanda, Pol Pot, Hitler and Milošević. If he chooses the latter path he will be soon forgotten outside of Canada and within Canada he will be categorized as a lesser Prime Ministers such as Bennett and Meighen. If he were to ask for my counsel, I would recommend he should be relatively happier for the comparison to Bennett and relative anonymity than the greater infamy of the other outcome.

While the acts of the Conservatives under Harper are odious, they are not alone on this sort of speech. The targets of the Conservative slander have supported a separatist movement that
has its own stains. These include the antisemitism of
Lionel Groulx and claims that "money and the ethnic vote" cost the PQ the 1995 referendum. This sort of demagoguery must be opposed whenever it raises its head.

If you are interested in reading more on this, the Orcinus blog has more on the phenomenon of "eliminationist" rhetoric in the United States.Recommend this Post

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Read Impolitical today.

First condoning torture in Afghanistan, now they are aping the Bush tactics by ignoring our legal rights.

Oppose these authoritarian wannabe dictators. Never stop till they have seen the inside of a cell.

I am supposed to be on a blog-rogation and things like this come up. If they keep it up I might really start to dislike HarProrogue.Recommend this Post

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Dark Lord and Peter Pettigrew work their financial magic

"You will have your reward, Wormtail. I will allow you to perform an essential task for me, one that many of my followers would give their right hands to perform..." - Voldemort

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. New York: Scholastic, 2000.
Stetson tip to Brad Dillman for allowing me the use of his Flaherty characterization.

P.S.: I know I said I was on a break but this is too good to pass up.

I think I may need an intervention.
Recommend this Post

Monday, December 15, 2008

Blog prorogation

I am faced with having to make significant decisions in the face of the GROOTBCC (Global Running Out Of Time Before Christmas Crisis) and I have two choices. Continue blogging for the good of all Canadians or do the running around to achieve the skiing and personal partying goals expected of me at this critical time of year.

Now you might say, "Why Constant, you project the image of a strong fearless leader. Surely you will keep on blogging through this busy time". But the truth is that despite my tendency to act as though I have a majority, I am actually in a minority position within the Vigilance family. I have heard rumblings that Eternal, Extreme and Occasional may form a Coalition to have me removed as the head of the family if I don't focus on their holiday demands. We are going skiing for 3 weeks so wax must be scraped and edges sharpened. There is no truth to the rumour that I am waiting to see what kind of wax TBOGG is using before I turn my iron on.

And so my fellow Canadians frankly let me be clear* that I have decided to ask the Spousal General to approve the prorogation of this blog until the first week in January 2009. Thus I will be unable to address the blogging needs of the nation until that time. With the exception of finishing up some posts that are in progress. Or if the Conservatives do something so stupid that I can't resist. Or of I get the Christmas poem finishd in time.

While some may claim this is the coward's way out, let me tell you all: "Nah, Nah Nah boo boo".

God bless Canada. And pray for snow.

Oh yeah. And HarProrogue is a weenie.

*No extra points for identifying whose tell that is.Recommend this Post

Saturday, December 13, 2008

If Paul Wells keeps this up

he may want to join ProgBloggers.

Here are some quotes that illustrate why he is paid to write and I have to look at rocks.
By late August he was furious to discover that Parliament was dysfunctional, in the manner of a man who pees on the floor and then complains the carpet is damp.

The whole point of the fall election, we were told, was to give Harper some “open water” to govern without having to worry the opposition would do anything nasty, such as opposing him. The whole point. Certainty vs. chaos. Steady hand vs. the deluge. The voters granted him, for the second time, the awesome gift of power; he used it to steer a straight line away from open water into chaos and deluge, like some mad Ahab of parliamentary mischief.
HarProrogue supporters will claim he is a Liberal stooge. I think he has had several cutting remarks for the Opposition parties. This is just another sign that the media has started to run out of slack to cut him.Recommend this Post

The Conservative Matrix - Environmental edition

Jim Prentice:
The fight against global warming will remain a priority for the Conservative government as it grapples with the global economic crisis, Environment Minister Jim Prentice said yesterday.

Don MacIver, the director of the Adaptation and Impacts Research Division at Environment Canada:
A senior Environment Canada scientist is blasting the federal government for causing "public embarrassment to Canada" by preventing him from organizing a prominent world gathering of experts on global warming.
Recommend this Post

Today's baby step to redemption

Sam Turton of The Guelph Mercury.

Go read this article outlining the nature of HarProrogue

You know the typical story. The bully elbows another kid in the head, but instead of taking the abuse, the kid fights back.

The scrap is stopped by the teacher. The bully lies, saying it's the other kid's fault. The teacher ducks responsibility and reprimands them both. The bully wins and the good kid learns that it's easier to take abuse than to stand up for what is right.

Canadians, let's cut the crap. In the recent government crisis, Stephen Harper threw the first elbow and the Liberals, NDP and Bloc Québécois stood up and fought back.

Harper started it and he deserves to be punished. Zero tolerance for bullies in my Canada.

And a point form explanation of how Parliament works:

Fact No. 1: Harper's Conservatives failed to win a majority mandate.

Fact No. 2: The opposition, duly elected by Canadians, are in the majority.

Fact No. 3: In order for a minority government to do the country's business and pass legislation, they must co-operate with the majority opposition.

Fact No. 4: If the minority government fails to co-operate and is defeated, we have an election or the Governor General asks the opposition to form a government.

(I would have reversed the order of that last point).

More clarification for those who fall for the Conserva-spin:

This is the no-spin reality. The Conservatives are duty bound to govern this country in co-operation with the opposition.

Instead of upholding this solemn trust, Harper dared the opposition to force another election by introducing right-wing measures that would undermine them -- and the country. He proposed to eliminate subsidy support for political parties and the right to strike for public-sector workers.

Worst of all, in a worldwide crisis, he failed to introduce economic stimulus that the G20 are insisting on.

Would you bow down to a proposal that would weaken party democracy, worker's rights, and the entire economy? Would you throw the country into another indecisive, expensive election? Or would you be brave, throw partisan divisions aside, and co-operate with other opposition members to band together and get the work done?

It is strong. It is concise. It lays Harper and his nature bare. Support writers pointing out the danger of Harper by going to the article. Email it to a friend. Post it on a board at work. Get the word out.
Recommend this Post

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Liberal Leader of the Woeful Countenance

Somewhere in La Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a nobleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing.

Don Quixote
Miguel de Cervantes
Translated by Edith Grossman

Or if you prefer the musical:
From Man Of La Mancha

Hail, Knight of the Woeful Countenance,
Knight of the Woeful Countenance!
Wherever you go
People will know
Of the glorious deeds
Of the Knight of the Woeful Countenance!
I like Rick Salutin's article on the Liberal Buddy Show. The Don Quixote comparison is very apt.
Or are they Don Quixote and Sancho Panza? The lanky, dreamy hero and his realistic sidekick. Funny how both models fit. A guy desperate to give an impression he thinks will impress needs a grounded buddy along.

And his advice for coalition opponents is wonderful.

P.S. I'm really tired of people saying, "We didn't vote for a coalition." That's the definition of a coalition - something you didn't vote for because what you did vote for didn't work out on anyone's side and you need a majority of votes to run a government.

If you had voted for a coalition, it wouldn't be a coalition, it would be The Coalition Party or something like that. You didn't vote to lose your job or get cancer or have that bridge washed out on your trip either. Unexpected, undesired things happen, so people improvise, they cope, they rig up new arrangements. Sometimes it's even for the best.

Recommend this Post

When your only competency is gamesmanship

When I did my morning clicking today, I saw that Impolitical put the two hour head start to good use with an excellent post on the political maneuvering by the Conservatives with regards the budget. Beautiful I thought to myself. I might have added a few things.

The first is the insistence of playing political games when the future of their government is on the line. This seems to be all they can do and it explains why they act like an opposition party while in office and their constant campaigning. It reminds me of an article by Ron Susskind on policy development in the Bush II White House* (my highlights in bold):
One senior White House official told me that he’d be summarily fired if it were known we were talking. "But many of us feel it’s our duty—our obligation as Americans—to get the word out that, certainly in domestic policy, there has been almost no meaningful consideration of any real issues. It’s just kids on Big Wheels who talk politics and know nothing. It’s depressing. Domestic Policy Council meetings are a farce. This leaves shoot-from-the-hip political calculations—mostly from Karl’s shop—to triumph by default. No one balances Karl. Forget it. That was Andy’s cry for help."...

"There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus," says DiIulio. "What you’ve got is everything—and I mean everything—being run by the political arm. It’s the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis."

In a seven-page letter sent a few weeks after our first conversation, DiIulio, who still considers himself a passionate supporter of the president, offers a detailed account and critique of the time he spent in the Bush White House.

"I heard many, many staff discussions but not three meaningful, substantive policy discussions," he writes. "There were no actual policy white papers on domestic issues. There were, truth be told, only a couple of people in the West Wing who worried at all about policy substance and analysis, and they were even more overworked than the stereotypical nonstop, twenty-hour-a-day White House staff. Every modern presidency moves on the fly, but on social policy and related issues, the lack of even basic policy knowledge, and the only casual interest in knowing more, was somewhat breathtaking: discussions by fairly senior people who meant Medicaid but were talking Medicare; near-instant shifts from discussing any actual policy pros and cons to discussing political communications, media strategy, et cetera. Even quite junior staff would sometimes hear quite senior staff pooh-pooh any need to dig deeper for pertinent information on a given issue."

Sound like any government closer to home? Remember the desciptions of Harper as a policy wonk? Some Policy. Some wonk.

This is the HarProrogue's main danger and Ignatieff's main chance. If Harper is seen to be playing politics with the economy, again, he will be mortally wounded. If Ignatieff can't frame Harper in this way he may go down as the last Liberal leader.

The second is that with the coming of the Obama Presidency, Harper and his pals are isolated as a political force on the fringe of global trends. In evolutionary terms, the analogous situation is called being a peripheral isolate (or in less accesible current wording peripatric speciation). Regardless of the jargon, it leads to an amplification of existing defects. I expect we will see some crazy things coming from the PMO as their world caves in.

The third is that the Conservative inner sanctum increasingly reminds me of the old Bob Newhart routine called "The Hold-out Huns" (No youtube available, sorry). Two german soldiers lost in the Black Forest who didn't realize that the war was over for 15 years and had trouble coming to grip with the changes all around them.

*I'll stop comparing Harper to Bush when he stops doing things that are comparable to Bush.Recommend this Post

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I wonder if HarProrogue remembers how MacBeth turned out?

My dearest coz, I pray you, school yourself; but for your husband,
He is noble, wise, judicious, and best knows
The fits o’ the season. I dare not speak much further;
But cruel are the times when we are traitors.
And do not know ourselves; when we hold rumour.
From what we fear, yet know not what we fear,
But float upon a wild and violent sea
Each way and move. I take my leave of you;
Shall not be long but I’ll be here again.
Things at the worst will cease, or else climb upward
To what they were before. My pretty cousin,

The Tragedy of Macbeth. Act IV Scene II
William Shakespeare (1564–1616).

The thin ranks are exposed in this article aren't they? Anyone of these will drive open the fault lines in the Conservative Party.

Jim Prentice

Prentice may be too far outside the Conservative Party mainstream on social issues, however. He voted in favour of same sex marriages and is pro-choice


However, Prentice may prove divisive among the grassroots for his PC party origin and his social liberalism. He also is clearly tied to Harper, and if the "Harper team"; is rejected, Prentice may be a casualty as well.

Jean Charest

Charest's social liberalism and championing of Quebec's interests would likely turn off a wide swath of the Tory base in the West.

Stockwell Day
(Yes, please. - CV)

Peter MacKay


However, his controversial pact with David Orchard at the 2003 PC leadership, and the tensions from the Conservative Party merger that follow may have put too many Conservatives' noses out of joint for MacKay to win this round.

Tony Clement


However, he does carry baggage from the Ontario Conservatives, including the hidden $5.6-billion deficit under Ernie Eves.

Should be fun at the Harper house this Christmas.

Recommend this Post

It's not so much about patronage it is that the 18 Senate appointments mean that the predictions that Jean put restrictions on HarProrogue's actions during the prorogation must be given much less credence. Or did she put restrictions on him and he is testing her resolve?

One option open to her was granting Mr. Harper a qualified prorogation - placing his administration in the straitjacket that limits what governments can do during an election campaign.

If the same limitations restrict what Mr. Harper's government can do until it meets Parliament on Jan. 26, the Prime Minister might not, for example, be allowed to make appointments such as filling the 18 vacancies in the Senate.

Certainty it is unworthy to think that he would be such a boor as to test the limit of any leash he is tethered to at such a delicate moment.Recommend this Post

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Comments on Stephen Harper on The National last night

I wish I knew how to make a Youtube and/or the CBC did quick transcripts because there were a lot of interesting points last night. Peter Mansbridge did a good job. He was much more direct that in past interviews. Another sign that he has worn out his media welcome. This created HarProrogue a lot of discomfort and he got testy more than once.

I tried transcribing on the fly but I was abysmal at it. So what follows is the gist of the conversation:

On confidence votes:
Mansbridge quoted from a speech Harper gave on September 17 in which Harper stated the importance of maintaining the confidence of the House through a vote. Mansbridge pressed him on how Harper ran away. The wee man didn't have an answer.

On the Political party subsidy
He stated that the vote subsidy and other poison pills did not, in his opinion, spark the crisis. So much for that talking point come January 27. This was not a reason for the crisis. Harper was asked in three different ways. And he gave the same answer. Maybe he didn't understand the question. Can he have a do over.

Why did the Coalition arise? There was a conspiracy. Harper the conspiracy theorist.

On the Liberal Party
The Liberal Party has a long tradition of governing and appealing to a wide spread of hte Canadian people. Sounds like an endorsement to me.

On empathy

He failed that part big time.
I'm not sure how easy it is to pick up a plant.

If the Liberal Party wants my recommendation (as if), they would save this for future commercials.Recommend this Post

Living in the Conservative Matrix

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''
Ron Susskind
New York Times Magazine

In the Matrix

Last week's crisis over the government's economic update didn't contribute to Monday night's stronger than expected showing for Pauline Marois's Parti Québécois, the Conservative Party's Quebec lieutenant said yesterday.

Speaking in an interview on RDI, Public Works Minister Christian Paradis denied the showdown and the government's decision to sharply criticize the Bloc Québécois played a role in the election results.

"It's obvious," Paradis said, pointing out that the government criticized the Bloc - not all Quebecers.

In what we call the reality-based community
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s comments about Quebec separatists gave the Parti Quebecois a major boost and helped the sovereigntist party close in on the Liberals in the provincial election, a leading pollster said Tuesday.

In a reversal of the historic election-day trend, the PQ performed far better than expected and closed so much of the gap with the Liberals that it nearly deprived Charest of a majority.

The PQ’s share of the popular vote was just seven percentage points less than the Liberals — after polls just days ago placed it 14 points behind — and it held Charest’s troops to a three-seat majority.

Jean-Marc Leger, president of Leger Marketing, said a poll suggested 14 per cent of Quebecers changed their vote on the last day, with half making that flip-flop while at the ballot box.

Leger said the largest contributor to the discrepancy between pre-election polling and the final outcome Monday was Harper’s anti-Quebec rant in the home stretch of the campaign.

"Some angry comments against Quebec was not something really good and a lot of Quebecers were angry about that and voted for the PQ," he said.

Recommend this Post

A phunny petite prorogue parady

The Rational Number has a two part parody of The Princess Bride starring HarProrogue as Vizzini. Good framing of the incompetent schemer with grandiose opinions of himself.

Perhaps he will cast Ignatieff as Inigo Montoya. "You killed my party. Prepare to die"

Update: Spelling error fixed. And I deleted the ROUS comment due to it being inappropriate. My apologies fro making it in the first place.Recommend this Post

Spreading the Calgary School Cancer

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945)

In a comment on yesterday's post, CLS tells a tale from the belly of the beast:
I had the misfortune of taking a mandatory PhD course taught by someone connected to the Calgary school. Most of the course was about the necessity of the 'noble lie' because the masses are unable to cope with reality. Because of the inadequacy of the masses it is necessary for a small group to take control under the guise of the noble lie so that chaos can be avoided, and truth embraced. When I read the Walrus article chills went up my spine because the ideology it examines was at the centre of the political theory course I took.
Thanks CLS for helping reinforce the point. My sympathies for having to endure such dreck.

A shout out to everyone who takes the time to comment. They are always appreciated.Recommend this Post

Canada on the verge of overtaking the U.S.

As the most recalcitrant country at the climate debate. Who says the rest of the world doesn't care about Canadian politics?

The crisis over who will be in charge in Ottawa in the new year is making waves at the United Nations climate change conference in Poznan, Poland, with many delegates expressing hope that Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be ousted, a Montreal observer said at the conference.

"I've had delegates from all over the world coming up to me and asking what is happening in Canada, and frankly, in the vast majority of cases, they are saying they wish the government would fall. The Harper government is not popular here," said Steven Guilbeault, a representative of Montreal-based Équiterre
And now with news that a coalition of Liberals, New Democrats and Bloc MPs might force a change in Canada's government in an expected non-confidence vote late next month, there is hope that Canada might soon become a help rather than a hindrance to progress on climate change, Guilbeault said.

Canada has been criticized for trying to propose new targets that would not even meet its own commitments under the Kyoto Protocol; for saying it should get a break because much of its emissions come from the tar sands projects; and for suggesting that Canada should be allowed weaker emissions reduction targets because Canadians will have to adjust their lifestyles in order to reduce emissions by, for example, using smaller cars or public transit.

Canada was also ridiculed for claiming it is almost 30 per cent above its Kyoto targets because of "national circumstances," including its cold climate and large size. The Climate Action Network noted that emissions targets are set relative to historical levels.

Just a little something for those wondering about what the world thinks about us under Harper. Yesterday the comedians had their say. Today U.N. delegates.Recommend this Post

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More interesting quotes on HarProrogue

I have been trying to finish a post on the implications of the Conservative language from last week but things like this post by Ann Douglas at One Woman. One Blog. It prompted me to re-read this Walrus article which focuses on Tom Flanagan but provides lots of insights into the Calgary School and HarProrogue's tendencies as well.

For example(my emphasis in bold):
With regrds the tactics of last week:
... Not surprisingly, most of the group’s policy prescriptions – from an elected senate to parliamentary approval of judges – would have one effect: they would wipe out the quirky bilateral differences that are stumbling blocks to seamless integration with the United States.

But Shadia Drury, a member of the U of C department until last year, accuses her former colleagues of harbouring a more sinister mission. An expert on Leo Strauss, the philosophical father of the neo-conservative movement, Drury paints the Calgary School as a homegrown variation on American Straussians like Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who share their teacher’s deep suspicions of liberal democracy. Strauss argued that a ruling elite often had to resort to deception – a noble lie – to protect citizens from themselves. To that end, he recommended harnessing the simplistic platitudes of populism to galvanize mass support for measures that would in fact restrict rights. Drury warned the Globe’s John Ibbitson that the members of the Calgary School “want to replace the rule of law with the populism of the majority,” and labelled Stephen Harper “their product.”
With regards Quebec:
They also share one beef not confined to Alberta: exasperation at Ottawa’s perennial hand-wringing over Quebec. In a 1990 essay in the now defunct West magazine, Barry Cooper, Flanagan’s closest departmental pal, advised Quebec separatists that if they were heading for the federal exit, they’d better get on with it – or, as he now sums it up, “The sooner those guys are out of here the better.” Cooper and David Bercuson, now director of the university’s Centre for Military and Strategic Studies, promptly followed up with Deconfederation: Canada without Quebec, a polemic that rocketed to the top of best-seller lists and sent shock¬waves across the country.

Kind of makes you think that there was a certain method behind the madness of railing against the Bloc. But if you believe that you would almost have to think that the Prime Minister was trying to provoke the break-up of Canada.Recommend this Post

Taking one for the team

The swirling tides of politics in Canada appear to have capsized Bob Rae's leadership campaign. Given his apparent willingness yesterday to fight on and the Party rules that hindered the attempt to coronate Michael Ignatieff this contest might have played out in a much more divisive process.

A long fight for the leadership would only have played into HarProrogue's hands. To me, it appears that Mr. Rae was guided, at least in part, by a desire to tackle the greater enemy. For this he deserves a lot of credit and has shown true leadership credentials. As with any democratic office, Mr. Ignatieff's leadership would be stronger were it not based on acclamation. This is especially true when the other candidates have dropped out as is the case in the current circumstances.

The decision by Mr. LeBlanc to drop out yesterday was based on an evaluation of the current political situation, realistic evaluation of his chances and under the expectation that he will be well placed to take another run in the future. Mr. Rae's decision is all the more noble since this was his last opportunity to reach for the brass ring.

The entire episode reinforces the point that the Party must adopt a one member one vote system to elect leaders in the future. This would have provided the flexibility to avoid this
less than fully democratic process.

(I suppose this means I will have to take down my Iggy joke).Recommend this Post

Monday, December 8, 2008

The HarProrogue (TM) time warp

Here is an interesting Steven HarProrogue quote from the election:
... Harper spoke quietly, as though much was riding on every syllable. “When you’re running a trillion-and-a-half-dollar economy,” he said, “you don’t get a chance to do a do-over, again and again.”

That was then this is now.Recommend this Post

Blue Sweater Vest Award - Conservative insider talks sedition

First off, why quote Gerry Chipeur without a rebuttal? He is a Conservative insider often tied to Republican and evangelical causes in the U.S. There are numerous credible sources for information that would contribute to the understanding of this problem. Barbara Yaffe should be ashamed for allowing him to spout off with this errant nonsense.

Second, This comment sounds a lot like sedition to me:
The Harper Conservatives could be within their rights to defy the governor-general if she asked the Liberal-NDP coalition to form a government in the new year, a constitutional lawyer warns.

Gerry Chipeur, the Alberta lawyer who crafted a proposal for the Canadian Alliance and Bloc Quebecois to work together in Parliament in 2000, said Gov.-Gen. Michaelle Jean would break constitutional convention were she to allow the coalition, supported by the Bloc Quebecois, to take power if they defeat the government's budget.

Chipeur's argument foreshadows a possibly drastic response from the Conservatives should they be turfed from power.

He suggests that Conservatives may not readily accept the governor-general's decision should she refuse the prime minister's request for an election.

I am not a lawyer but I would be very interested to hear if this is grounds for disbarment. If so, are there any progressive lawyers, Albertan or otherwise, willing to take up the fight?Recommend this Post

The knives in the many sides of Harper

Joanne Chianello has an interesting piece in the Ottawa Citizen today on HarProrogue (TM). Titled "The Many Sides Of Harper, it is intended as a reference to the phases of Harper's career and the different personas he has presented to the public. The primary theme is the hardline partisanship underlying his actions. It actually reflects several themes that have been developing elsewhere all in one great article. It is also another piece showing how the media romance with Harper is coming to an overdue end. (Stetson tip to Sassy for the head's up about the article.)

Insiders speaking out
This time it is insiders "close" to Harper who are letting us in on the not so secret real Steve (my highlights in bold).

What else, say political observers, could have led Mr. Harper to include in what should have been an innocuous economic statement several incendiary measures, especially the move to eliminate federal subsidies for political parties?

"He did not do that for ideological reasons," says Gerry Nicholls, a political consultant and one-time colleague of the prime minister. "He did it because he wanted to destroy the Liberal party. That's what it was all about."

"He pushed away his ideology because he thought he could win," says Mr. Nicholls, who worked with Mr. Harper at the National Citizens Coalition. (The inner sanctum!)

"When things don't go Stephen's way, he has a tendency to go into a really dark place," says Mr. Nicolls. "When things don't go his way, his reaction is to quit."

"This (week) isn't the first time he has gone down a road like this," says Bob Plamondon of Mr. Harper's partisan-based decisions...
"I don't think he's a man who possesses a high level of emotional intelligence," says Mr. Plamondon. "He just doesn't get it."The author, a former Tory insider...

Harper as a Toom Tabard
Lack of real world experience:

Mr. Harper does have a master's degree in economics, which he earned in 1991 from the University of Calgary. By then, he was chief policy wonk for the nascent Reform party. He never taught economics or worked as an economist in any conventional sense.

But that's academic, so to speak. When the notion of Harper-the-economist is raised, critics point out that he cut the GST by two percentage points. It was a move decried by real economists of all political stripes, as the profession generally favours consumption taxes over income or other indirect forms of taxation... (decried by real economists, I love it)

Observers say the economic statement was bizarre on several fronts. Before its release, Mr. Harper said global leaders are facing "classical circumstances under which budgetary deficits are essential." He seemed to be priming the public to expect a short-term deficit along with a stimulus package of some kind -- neither materialized. Some economists question whether the numbers in the statement even add up.

Focus on personality issues:
Beyond those his friends brought up earlier, there is this amazing bit of petulance and classlessness:
But an op-ed he wrote for the National Post after the death of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau in 2000 may provide insight into the depths of Mr. Harper's contempt for Mr. Trudeau and his Liberal legacy. It is remarkable for its bitterness, considering the article was published days after Mr. Trudeau died.

Mr. Plamondon, the author of soon-to-be-released Blue Thunder: The Truth about Conservatives from Macdonald to Harper, points to many instances and mini-scandals that betray the spirit of democracy: the in-and-out financing scheme; the Cadman affair; bringing newly elected Liberal MP David Emerson across the floor and into the Conservative cabinet; accusing Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission president Linda Keen, a career bureaucrat, of being a Liberal appointee (evidence of Mr. Harper's belief that being accused of being a Liberal is an insult) and then firing her hours before she was to appear before a House committee; and violating his own fixed-election date law.

I expect that after reading this piece Harper may have gone to his dark place.
Recommend this Post

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Deep thought for a snowy (yeah!) Sunday

After I read these quotes I realized that Canada is a lot like quantum mechanics. Say them out loud but substitute Canada for the references to quantum mechanics.
  • Quantum mechanics is magic. Daniel Greenberger.
  • Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real. Niels Bohr.
  • Those who are not shocked when they first come across quantum theory cannot possibly have understood it. Niels Bohr.
  • If you are not completely confused by quantum mechanics, you do not understand it. John Wheeler.
  • It is safe to say that nobody understands quantum mechanics. Richard Feynman.
  • If [quantum theory] is correct, it signifies the end of physics as a science. Albert Einstein.
  • I do not like [quantum mechanics], and I am sorry I ever had anything to do with it. Erwin Schrödinger.
  • Quantum mechanics makes absolutely no sense. Roger Penrose
Recommend this Post

My endorsement for Liberal leader

Since the game to move the decision forward is afoot it is time to get off the fence. I am for Bob Rae. I will try to be succinct. All three are fine men and we are lucky to have people of this calibre willing to take on the task. In the end, as with many important decisions, I had to distill the various factors down to make a choice.
In short form here is the reasoning behind the pick.
Dominic LeBlanc - He is part of the bright future of leadership for the Party. But given his lack of experience and the tradition of alternating between francophone and anglophone leaders, this run was worthwhile for future positioning.
Michael Ignatieff - I overcame my earlier concerns based on his Iraq comments. His sincere expression of a change of mind based on new information and his associated sincere contrition was impressive. I appreciate his tendency to reflect on issues and his thoughtfulness. But in the final result, this can be a fatal political flaw. It was the Dion's tardiness in fighting back against the Conservative attacks that did him in. Once he joined the fight he was more effective. Part of the wariness on Ignatieff's part during this past week is telling. I am concerned that he will be too slow to fight back at the critical times. This is part of the make up of two fine men but it isn't a characteristic of the leader we need right now. Which brings us to Rae.
Bob Rae
While it is obvious that his strong advocacy for the Coalition is partly motivated by considerations of the benefit for his leadership campaign at least he has seen the opening and actively taken it on. He has been willing to take a stand while Ignatieff has equivocated.

At the right time it is important to be able to fight with passion. I wish I could find a Youtube of a speech Trudeau gave during the last referendum campaign. He was willing to fight with naked passion. This is what will inspire people to get out and vote and that is the key to winning.

Regardless of who wins, he will enjoy my full support.

Scott; If you read this, please add my blog to the Rae list.Recommend this Post

Your chance for immortality

As manifested on the pages of the blog at least. I am working on a post regarding the language HarProrogue and his minions have been using over the last week and I wanted to reference a few thing from the notaleader site. It, however, has preceded it's master into the recycle bin of history.

I remember read a few posts on some blogs during the Puffin Poop Phlap that had screen caps of the image of Dion and several prominent Liberals surrounded by bulletholes and other posts pointing out the animated Ignatieff that if you clicked on it would shoot at the shrugging Dion.

If you were the poster or a reader who knows where these posts are I would appreciate it if you would let me know. I would definitely prefer to properly attribute these things. You may paste an address in the comments or send an email to


CVRecommend this Post

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Compare and contrast a series of quotes

...from the Hitler page of the Auschwitz website and today's Star piece on Harper by Robert Benzies and a 2006 CBC article.

Before I start, I am well aware of the danger of falling into a reductio ad hitlerum trap so I am just copying and pasting without comment. (Please note that the reductio ad Hitlerum defense was coined by Leo Strauss who is a hero of the Calgary School which thoughtfully gave a platform for the ideas of Tom Flanagan, Barry Cooper, Ted Morton and others). In the interest of balance it is worthwhile including this additional quote from the Star article: "As Harper struggles to contain the national psychodrama he sparked, the amateur psychoanalysis is reaching a fever pitch." I blog, you decide.

On to the quotes:
The Star: "So says one of Stephen Harper's long-time acquaintances, wryly noting the Prime Minister has few friends."
Aushwitz: "His only boyhood friend... Hitler would only tolerate approval from his friend and could not stand to be corrected, a personality trait he had shown in high school and as a younger boy as well."
" He has few close friends but is fiercely loyal to them. He has a temper that shows itself when he believes he is being betrayed."
The Star: "In interviews with federal associates of Harper, past and present, a picture emerges of a bright and driven man who does not take dissenting counsel especially well and is prone to profane outbursts."
Auschwitz: "recalled Hitler as a shy, reticent young man, yet he was able to burst into hysterical fits of anger towards those who disagreed with him."Recommend this Post

Pump up Don Newman's ratings

Jeff (and a lot of others. His is the first I saw) has a Youtube up that shows Don Newman giving a lesson in surgical interviewing to the rest of the media with John Baird and whatever was left of his credibility as the cadaver.

If we want to see the renaissance of journalism in the country we need to support real journalists. Let's see us pump up his ratings so other networks, political shows and journalists follow his lead. Here are the co-ordinates of his show: Politics.

Go there. Watch the show. Send positive comments. Now.Recommend this Post

Interactive project on the fourteen steps to fascism, eh? Updated with new links

In 2003, political scientist Lawrence Britt identified fourteen characteristics of fascism. The Old American Century website put together a compendium of ways in which the Bush regime matched these points. I thought it would be interesting to see how well Steven HarProrogue (TM) is doing.

The characteristics are listed below. I will add in a few links that I think demonstrate his adherence to the fascism two step. Feel free to add yours in the comments and I will update this post with them periodically. Sassy provides a Harper specific one: Megalomainia

  1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
    Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays. Coalition has no flags,
  2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
    Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc. Afghan torture

  3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
    The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc. Separatists in Coalition
    -This is part of an upcoming "separate" post - CV Get it? separate;)
  4. Supremacy of the Military
    Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized. Military budget increases, Arctic sovereignty initative (h/t ruby)
  5. Rampant Sexism
    The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy. Pay equity cuts

  6. Controlled Mass Media
    Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common. (So many CTV references, so little time) Media control (h/t Beijing York & MoS)

  7. Obsession with National Security
    Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

  8. Religion and Government are Intertwined
    Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions. God bless Canada, Harper and the Theo-cons (h/t Beijing York)

  9. Corporate Power is Protected
    The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite. Protection of the oil sands over the environment (h/t ruby) ,

  10. Labor Power is Suppressed
    Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed . PSAC right to strike
    (h/t Paladiea)
  11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
    Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts. Harper's arts cuts in campaign

  12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
    Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations. Law and order agenda

  13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
    Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders. Asset sell off

  14. Fraudulent Elections
    Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections. Not a Leader (site is gone), In and out
Recommend this Post

Progressive presents

Now that the last bit of silliness has past I would like to change tack and bring up something more uplifting.

As "that time of year" approaches you may find yourself faced with the need to buy presents for clients, colleagues, friends or relatives that are supposed to be of a nominal set value. Rather than buying them some cheap trinkets, may I suggest you think about making charitable donations in the recipients name.

One that Eternal and I use is Canadian Physicians For Aid And Relief. A $30 donation sees that 60 trees get planted in Africa.

P.S.: If you love this blog so much you were thinking of getting me something I don't expect much. If you could make it so I never hear the phrases "ramp Ceremony" or "Violence Against Women" again it would be the best Christmas ever.Recommend this Post

The Brooks Brothers Riot and those Conservative staffers at Rideau Hall

For those of you not familiar with the Brooks Brothers Riot; during the 2000 U.S. Presidential election re-count process, a "spontaneous" demonstration occurred outside of a courtroom to try and stop a re-count that would likely have handed the election to Al Gore. These demonstrators were subsequently identified as being Republican staffers.

Fast forward to Ottawa on Thursday and The KD was the first of many commentators to point out that the people gathered to support the P.M.'s move to prorogue are Conservative staffer (My highlight in bold):
"10:17:04 AM
And he’s coming out! Or - people are coming out, anyway. Not sure if the PM is among them. Also, a tip to those organizing nonpartisan grassroots demonstrations: most of us who work on the Hill can recognize Conservative staffers - even when they’re all decked out like ordinary Canadians."
So once again, Toom Tabard has nothing of his own to offer. He is faced with a crisis and his reflex response to copy tactics pioneered by Karl Rove.

I wonder how many of the Anti-Coalition rallies are predominated by Conservative staffers? Since the Pro-Coalition parties are skint we can be fairly confident that the turnout is made up of true supporters.Recommend this Post

Quick hits on the GG decision and future moves by the Coalition

On the Thursday edition of "Politics" on, Don Newman interviewed University of Ottawa Law Professor Ed Ratushny. The shows seem to only be available for a week so there is a time limit to being able to see this clip. It starts at 1:07 hours in.

Dr. Ratushny had reassuring comments that the prorogation decision does not set a precedent. This is in addition to the Michael Valpy article in the Globe today. It appears she did a good job under the circumstances. He points out that by granting the prorogation now, it gives her firmer ground to refuse his requests later.

He also made a point of saying that he didn't understand why the Coalition laid all their cards on the table in advance. He pointed out that it wasn't necessary. They could have made their play after the defeat of the Conservatives. They may have had their reasons but as someone who sincerely hopes they achieve their goals, I hope they don't do this in January.Recommend this Post

Friday, December 5, 2008

Two things for Friday afternoon

First thing.
This is what Mr. Dion should have said to Stephen Moore of CTV on that fateful night during the election: "If my mother had wheels she would be a tractor" - Gilles Duceppe after being asked a silly question about a possible future Conservative budget. Perhaps we could begin to heal some of the wounds Harper has inflicted on the ROC's relationship with Quebec by letting them know that most of us would vote for him if he led the Liberals.

Second thing
The danger for the Conservatives is that they are now holding the bag of stuff responsible dog owners pick up. They have limited ways to respond to the rapidly expanding crisis now that the house is prorogued. The poor bench strength of the Conservative caucus matches the lack of experience and ability of their leader. The are an entire rack of Toom Tabards.

If you want to have a sound bite way to bring this home to family and friends, print off this post by Impolitical and show it to them.
"The gossip is that the senior congressional players, faced with intense domestic policy pressures, didn't want to meet with Canadians who had no auto industry ideas to bring to the table. It is astounding that Canadian ministers would visit Washington with nothing to discuss, but the apparent hubris demonstrated during the visit belies the Harper government's entire response to the economic crisis-—it is all someone else's problem and they are just disinterested observers. (emphasis added)
This brings home the point that they do not have a clue as to what to do.Recommend this Post

About that leadership race

"The era of procrastination, of half measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences...,"
Winston Churchill said to the House of Commons in November of 1936.

There is a long way to go in this race. But the question needs to be asked: "What is a leader?". Both of the front runners are unquestionably fine men. They are the opposite of an empty coat. They are men of the highest integrity. Excellent debaters. Intelligent in the extreme. They have the best interests of Canada at heart. At any time throughout most of Canada's history, we would be fortunate to be able to call either of them Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. But the same is true of Stephane Dion.

We are in a period unlike most of Canada's history. We are facing an economic crisis unlike any we have seen in our lifetimes. The current occupant of the PMO is a coward who is willing to rip the country apart to save his grasp on power. A cunning one but a coward nonetheless. In addition to this, he is openly plotting to turn Canada into what would essentially be a one party state by destroying his oppenents.

Given the current travails of country and party, I will be much happier to see a person who recognizes the danger and is willing to step up and be counted than one who waits to see how things triangulate. The Liberal leadership is not such a great prize right now. There is no point in strategizing for a run-up to a May convention if Harper is going to contrive an election in March.

Compare and contrast.

Mr. Rae, the Toronto Centre MP and Liberal leadership candidate, began staking out his territory Thursday as the champion of a coalition government aimed at taking down Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

He's going to carry the can,” said one of his chief strategists. “He's going to stand up and let his voice be heard and encourage Liberals to hang in and we can take down Harper and put in a good government that will do the right thing.

"Meanwhile, Mr. Rae left no doubt where he stood on the coalition concept. In a remarkable intervention during a raucous closed-door caucus meeting Thursday, Mr. Rae interrupted Mr. Dion, taking him on for being too conciliatory toward Mr. Harper."


"Michael Ignatieff, Mr. Rae's main rival for the leadership and his former best friend, was not as aggressive in his approach, telling reporters that Liberals will be “thinking hard” and “responsibly” until the Harper Conservatives deliver their budget on Jan. 27."
"On Thursday, there was a hint of Mr. Ignatieff's hesitancy after it became known he was the very last Liberal to sign a letter endorsing the coalition, which was sent to the Governor-General before her meeting with Mr. Harper."

"Thinking hard"? You have got to be kidding. Dion tried debateing Harper respectfully and look what happened to him. The Conservatives are about to unleash pre-writ advertizing that will make Not-a-leader look like the trial run it was. Dion didn't think this kind of sleaze would have traction with the electorate. To his disappointment he was very wrong. He should have fought back against it right away. Dion's approval went up when he was combative. Like Rae is doing with his defense of the Coalition. Harper has been successful in his efforts to frame this so far.

Yes there are risks in backing the coalition. Yes Mr. Rae has baggage. But everyone does. And while I give Mr. Ignatieff high marks fro his honest contrition on his Iraq mistakes I can't conceive of a worse time for a "patrician" leader. We are entering into a battle for Canada. The time for half measures has passed.

This isn't a full endorsement of Mr. Rae but I guess you can decide which way I am leaning.Recommend this Post

Fool you once; shame on Harper...

Fool you this often, it's time to look at a career change.

Don Martin
December 04, 2008
"But here’s hoping a different political animal returns in late January. There are tentative, subject-to-change signals that Harper got the message. He stepped into a sudden hailstorm at Rideau Hall as a changed man from the confrontational stance he adopted in a national television address the night before."
November 30, 2008
"So what we're seeing now is the end of that fearless bravado that Harper personified with such aloof ease."
October 09, 2008
"The bigger question is how the Conservative response fits with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s efforts to tame his hard-nosed cold-hearted image with sweaters and baby hugs."

You get the idea. As Bugs Bunny would say after he tricked Yosemite Sam once again: "What a maroon". He isn't going to change. He will put out treacly videos if that fits the persuasion matrix the database spits out but that is just velvet on the iron fist.

Perhaps it isn't fair to pick on Mr. Martin. It's just that his blog is the easiest to search. The Globe, The Star and every other paper seems to have a Charlie Brown pundit or two who is more than willing to believe that this time Steven "Lucy Van Buren" Harper won't pull the football away. That the smile isn't forced and insincere. That the kind words and pat on the back aren't lining Canadians up for a knife between the shoulders.

What other choice do you have when you reflexively hate anything that isn't conservative?Recommend this Post

A reasssuring article on the prorogation decision

I'm not ready to do a Eugene Forsey impersonation but I have been learning a lot the constitution and the intricate details about the functions of the Governor General over the last eight days. But there is still lots to learn.

After reading this article, I think that the G.G. may have demonstrated stick handling skills worthy of having her named to Team Canada for 2010. Preserving the legitimacy of her office under the pressure of a prime ministerial forecheck.
"Whatever it is that Governor-General Michaëlle Jean told Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Rideau Hall yesterday, it does not set a precedent that will let future prime ministers escape censure by willy-nilly shutting down Parliament.

Constitutional conventions and precedents don't tie the hands of governors-general and the application of what's known as their reserve powers in the same way that, for example, they steer judicial decisions, according to constitutional scholars."...

"The key point is that whatever Ms. Jean did yesterday won't tie the hands of future governors-general or unleash future prime ministers to run over Parliament with their boots.

The reserve powers - the powers that may be exercised by the governor-general without the approval of another branch of government - are undefined and will never be defined, Prof. Smith said."...

"With Ms. Jean's decision yesterday, said Prof. Franks, a leading scholar on parliamentary procedure, "while this might be a guide for future governors-general, it won't be a precedent.""

I say we see how well she skates and put her on a line with Iggy. Not that one. This one. Maybe Crosby on the wing. Not that one. This one. Maybe they will put in a performance worthy for inclusion in Harper's hockey history book. He will have lots of time to write it after he gets his butt kicked in March.
Recommend this Post

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Another facet of Harper's likely strategy is unearthed

From Canadian Cynic*, we see an angle Harper may actually have been looking for from prorogation. Not a chance for his government to survive but an opportunity to have it fall. (The key part is a P.S. so it might have taken a while to sink it for them too.)

"P.S. Maybe after the prorogation, Harper will simply call a snap election. And given the precedent she's already set, Jean will have no choice but to agree to that as well. Apparently, the word "no" simply isn't in her vocabulary."

As I said earlier today, he is aching for an election and this may be his angle to get one.

Tid Bit: In the comments there were several people who had good points as to why we shouldn't be too quick to demonize Jean. A sample:
"I don't think that's fair, though, CC. I think Ed Broadbent is right -- this is entirely at Harper's door, for putting Jean in an impossible position. Prorogation has never been refused before, and she herself would be setting a precedent and possibly setting off a different constitutional crisis by disagreeing to prorogation.

It's Harper himself who has created this impossible either/or for her, and has set out on a destructive path.

All I could think yesterday, about Jean, was "she's going to be vilified and demonized no matter what she decides." So perhaps it's "our side" that's going to vilify her instead of "their side." But I'd rather vilify the creator of the crisis than the woman whose choice was absolutely impossible."

It is a mess but it just one more we will have to clean up after we get rid of these clowns.

Update: The upcoming ad blitz will have nothing to do with the budget. It will be another fiercer bout of pre-writ advertizing and it will be based on painting the Opposition as undemocratic. Ironic isn't it. Harper is going to campaign by portraying himself as the defender of democracy so he get get a majority and be a dictator.

*A blog whose views I respect but whose vitriol, I think, attenuates the impact but that is just me.Recommend this Post

What is it about Harper that engenders comparisons to Bush?

Although we will never know, it is possible that Jean placed more weight on the Peace (in our time - CV) and Order aspects of our Constitution over the Good Government one. This has, IMHO, established a dangerous precedent. And here is where Bush comes in and a way to regain the representative aspect of our democracy.

In Bush Vs. Gore, the horrible decision that enabled the neo-con nightmare to begin the US Supreme Court held that this was not precedent setting. From the Wikipedia summary:

"Some critics of the decision argue that the majority seemed to seek refuge from their own logic
in the following sentence in the majority opinion: "Our consideration is limited to the present circumstances, for the problem of equal protection in election processes generally presents many complexities." The Court's defenders argued that this was a reasonable precaution against the possibility that the decision might be read over-broadly, arguing that in the short time available it would not be appropriate to attempt to craft language spelling out in greater detail how to apply the holding to other cases. Critics, however, interpreted the sentence as stating that the case did not set precedent in any way and could not be used to justify any future court decision, and some suggested that this was evidence the majority realized its holding was untenable."

I am not channeling Eugene Forsey here and I suppose this is grasping at straws but it is an attempt to make the best of a bad situation.

At present, I do not have a preferred candidate for the Liberal leadership. If one were to state that he would put a motion before Parliament asking that this current prorogation be set aside as precednt it would go a long way to demonstrating his credentials as a democrat and therby getting my support.Recommend this Post