Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Summer is a time for ....reading

Since this is the first year in which I have had a blog, I am discovering a number of seasonal impacts on blogging regularity. The number of posts over winter weekends is directly proportional to the quality of the snow. And now I have discovered that my love of summer reading, cycling (mountain and road) and other pursuits cause me to ignore the blog more than a for a bit. I feel a bit guilty about it but I get over that once I sit down on the deck with a glass of wine and a book. Nothing to disturb me but the occasion mosquito. And they can be swatted away as easily as the equally annoying Conservative talking points.

Since this is a "Canadian political blog" I should report on one of the books I have read. A Fair Country by John Ralston Saul. I can highly recommend this book for those interested in being challenged as to how to make the best of Canada. J R-S elaborates on his theme, outlined in Reflections Of A Siamese Twin, that Canada is based on three founding nations (Aboriginal, English and French) and that this at the heart of what makes us unique. Whether you agree with it or not, it is more palatable than the assimilationist tripe that the Eminence Grease has imported from the United States.

One of the defining characteristics that J R-S ascribes to Canadians as a result of this aboriginal lineage is an ability to have a sense of the other or feel empathy for the position of the people you come in contact with. After I finished A Fair Country, I started on Shakey, Neil Young's Biography. I thought it would be a good idea to read a book on someone who Conservatives would claim has invalidated himself as a candidate for Prime Minister by virtue of being successful on the world stage notwithstanding his obvious connection to his home and native land. (BTW, It was apparent that Neil Young wanted his affection for Canada to be very clear to the readers of this book).

It was very interesting that I read the following quote from Mr. Young on page 38:
There's something in Canada that teaches you that you always gotta look at both sides. See how other people could figure out why what you're saying is wrong before you're so sure you're right.
Pretty cosmic that the same thought is expressed in two such disparate books. Maybe J R-S is onto something.

I would like to thank anyone who took the time out from your summer to read this. I hope you enjoyed it. Now back to internet silence.
Recommend this Post

Friday, July 24, 2009

Democracy is a fragile thing

Adjusting to the life of a consultant while fitting in some fun over the summer leaves little time for blogging. It seems that Friday mornings provide a bit of time to reflect on political events. But I do find that when I have a chance to sit down at the computer there is one overarching observation that represents the forest comprised of the trees of daily events.

The forest is the ease with which a megalomaniac at the head of the weakest minority government in history has been able to devolve Canada into chaos. The trees are the daily disasters the Calgary Cretins have piled one upon the other so rapidly that it isn't until you step back that you can see the path of destruction. The signs have been recognized along the way. Whether it is reflected in the handling of the Listeriosis inquiry or Chalk River fiasco, the incompetence of this government and the reaction to every event on a political basis has made manifest the erosion of Canada as a viable state. These are just two of the files that have been more than fumbled.

So while another Canadian success story falls prey to Conservative indifference, Steve Jong Il is at Harrington Lake modelling some fake uniforms for the next time he mounts a reviewing stand.
Recommend this Post

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Canada's back

Or is Canada a backwater? No additional comment needed with the quotes from this article (My emphasis in bold):

G8 Attack Reflects Poorly on Canada: Experts

Although the misstep by the prime minister will likely make few waves with Canadians—most of whom are busy enjoying summertime—experts say it adds to a troubling pattern in Mr. Harper's approach to foreign policy. They say he seems content to miss opportunities to contribute to the international dialogue, instead commenting on internal, domestic politics that international journalists will have no interest in. ...

For observers, it's the way Mr. Harper approaches foreign policy.

"Foreign policy is not [Mr. Harper's] main interest," said Errol Mendes, a professor of international law at the University of Ottawa. "It would be interesting to know how many average citizens of the G8 would know who our prime minister is, whereas they certainly knew who Trudeau was, even Mulroney. So the fact that he does not shine on the international stage does impact on us having profile."

Mr. Akin recalled that at the prime minister's first G8 Summit in St. Petersburg in 2006, Mr. Harper avoided the press for three entire days, even as every other G8 leader loudly trumpeted their messages to the international press gathered on site.

"He was so uncomfortable he was invisible, he physically looked smaller in that '06 summit...he seemed really out of his element," Mr. Akin said. "When you're travelling with him, there's never enough information about his activities, about who he's speaking to. The read-outs that we get from the PMO communications when he meets with other leaders are frustratingly bland and vague."

Journalist and author Andrew Cohen suggests Mr. Harper's performance and press coverage from the G8 may reflect Canada's diminished role in the world. Mr. Cohen questions what international issue Mr. Harper has associated himself and Canada with, and said it is not clear what it is that Canada is contributing.

"What struck me about this is that he was relentlessly and unnecessarily partisan," Mr. Cohen said. "And you wonder why he did it; it doesn't help him internationally and it doesn't help him at why did he do it? Maybe because he just can't help himself.

"We will probably have to wait...before we ever know what kind of a prime minister he was in those summits, but my sense is if we were doing innovative things and we were as daring as once we were, we would know." ...

"Why would he have offered up this gratuitous and what turns out to be erroneous critique of his competitor in Canada when he'd just done a reasonably good job otherwise?" Mr. Graves said. "That might reinforce this view that he has difficulty transcending partisan instincts."

Recommend this Post

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Insanity is a parallel to Bush I never saw coming.

As the madness of the the Bush years wound down , progressives in the U.S.A. could look forward to the day when 43 would retire to Crawford to cut brush and follow other pastoral pursuits.

Up here in the Great White North, we are witnessing our head of government follow a similar pattern of behaviour which leads one to question his sanity. All we need to get him is a "ranch" and a chain saw. Maybe not the chainsaw. We wouldn't want anyone to get hurt.
Recommend this Post

Well, it looks like pre-eminent economist is off the list

Of job opportunities Harper will be invited to consider after the next election. At least if Jeffery Simpson has anything to say about it. (My emphasis in bold).
You know, there's two schools in economics on this. One is that there are some good taxes and the other is that no taxes are good taxes. I'm in the latter category. I don't believe that any taxes are good taxes.

– Stephen Harper, July 10

This assertion, from an interview the Prime Minister gave The Globe and Mail after the G8 summit in Italy, is one of the most stunning, revealing and, frankly, ignorant statements ever made by a prime minister, let alone one who keeps purporting to be an economist, despite doing so many things that economists deplore.

Let us see. What else is off the list? Health care consultant? Nope. That one has left dock. International political ethics and protocol advisor? Not likely. I'll tell you what. I would consider making a donation to the NCC if they would take him back.

Recommend this Post

Friday, July 10, 2009

One apology down several more needed

All of Canada is still waiting for an apology for the churlish behaviour Harper displayed by using an international forum to mount a paritsan attack. But he has more to apologize for today than just that.

And while he is at it he should apologize to Kevin Page. Whether or not Harper likes Mr. Page and his work, for the head of our governement to refer to an officer of Parliament as "dumb" is ill befitting a Prime Minister. But then Harper is a poor fit for anything but wingnut welfare.
Recommend this Post

At some point the "Tim Horton's demographic" has to glom on to this

I realize that part of the reason the popularity of Harper's government hasn't fallen through the floor is due to the fact that most Canadians are more fixated on American Idol than politics. But when do things like this penetrate the miasma?

The Harperites are starting to make the Bush Administration look competent.
Recommend this Post

Is Chalk River typical of Conservative "competence" or an expression of a colonial mentality?

A lot of us have been aghast at the staggering cluster-f**k the Conservatives have made of the isotope crisis over the last 18 months. And it is getting worse*

It is hard for Canadians who are proud of their nation and want to see Canada build on it's accomplishments to come to terms with this apparent incompetence. How can seemingly capable people, advised by a professional bureaucracy, not have done a better job in responding to this crisis?

But if, like Harper and his klutzy clique, you are a Calgary Cretin you have a colonial mentality towards Canada's relationship towards the United States. You grew up in a city with an economy based on an industry pioneered by Americans. The technology was developed in the U. S. and brought to Canada by Americans. A significant amount of the capital necessary to develop the resources came form the south as well. The primary market for the oil and gas they discovered was in the south as well. Canada's place in the world was to provide the resources necessary for the American Empire. To suggest anything else is "Anti-American" and seditious.

Notwithstanding that Calgarians have leveraged the American initiation of the petroleum industry and become world leaders in oil and gas technology; the Canadian purpose is to serve the U.S.A. So if the Canadian nuclear industry vanishes; "C'est dommage. It is a shame but being a world leader in a highly technical field is not our station". In their world view, a patriotic Canadian focuses on maintaining the hewer of wood role. They can't help fix the reactor problem because in their view the problem is that we have the reactors in the first place.

The rest of us get frustrated because they have bungled this issue so badly but we are expecting them to do something they are mentally incapable of doing. Selling off AECL and getting out of the isotope business is the path to take if you believe that Canadians should focus on mining the yellowcake and shipping it to the States.

John Ralston Saul has written on the phenomenon of the transference of the Canadian colonial deference to the U.S.A. from Great Britain in Reflections of a Siamese Twin and most recently in A Fair Country. An excerpt from a fair country that discussing the colonial mentality with regards to the selection of Ottawa as our capital can be found here.

*Keeping that list up to date may be a full time job for Buckets.
Recommend this Post

Good news for the Liberals

The Bird Man of Langevin has been released from purgatory/house arrest. Embarrassing disasters for Harper are sure to follow.

What's that? Harper was making a fool of himself without Sparrow's help? It could be an interesting summer.
Recommend this Post

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ich bin ein Americaner

Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was civis Romanus sum [I am a Roman citizen]. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is 'Ich bin ein Berliner'... All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words 'Ich bin ein Berliner!'

With those words, JFK outlined the connection he felt as an American to the people in Berlin trapped within East Germany.

Think back. Think way back. Remember 4 plus years ago when the rest of the world felt sorry for those "poor stupid" Americans. The rest of the world could not believe that Bush could even get close to being re-elected and the US was ridiculed for it.

It is our turn to be embarassed by a risible "leader" as this doofus inexplicably remains in contention for a minority if an election were held in the near future.

Ich bin ein Americaner.

With these words, I outline the connection I feel as a Canadian to the people who were trapped within Bush's America.
Recommend this Post

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Hooray for Michelle Stimson

As a bloggers I type long posts to point out the failings of our politicians. When someone does the right thing very few words are necessary.

Correction: As pointed out in the comments, there is no T in Simson.
Recommend this Post

A more crowded middle or a Harper Loyalty test

This is intriguing and weird at the same time. (Original provenance, as far as I can tell Beaudine on Twitter).

Sure we are all tired of the extremism. But if you want to fight the Harper for King Party, why not join the Liberals? Given the election gridlock a slight shift back to the Liberals might be all it takes. Another party of the centre would only help the Conservatives. So if the people behind this website are sincere, why try and resurrect the PC Party? It would be a pretty obvious vote splitting ploy by the Conservatives to attempt this.

But splinter groups tend to come from the edges of a party not the mainstream component. Think of the Reform schism from the PCs. Now the current Conservatives might fragment differently. Perhaps the moderate faction is the minority.

It is a fairly minimalist website. Just the email address. Black white and gray. No colour. What gives? Why launch the website when it is obviously not ready for prime time? Where is the meat? Maybe it is another display of the ineptitude of the true conservative.

Three things come to mind regarding this:
  1. I seem to recall someone fairly adept at tracing IP addresses (Buckets?) was able to triangulate the likely source of a website. I may be mis-remembering but perhaps a more internet savvy blogger could have a go at this to look for a connection to the Harper "strategy" group.
  2. I recall a similar email address from the Reform/CRAP days that used "begin" as the user name as opposed to the more orthodox "info" or other such placeholder. Was this a sub-conscious recycling of that appellation? I haven't been able to confirm this yet.
  3. Assuming this is some sort of Conservative operation, it does not seem likely to be aimed as a vote splitter. But how about some sort of loyalty test? Perhaps as a way to fill the infamous database with information of soft former PC voters who might move to the other side. They can then be target ted to firm up the vote during a campaign. Or maybe, to complete the comparison to Stalin, they could be purged from the Party if Harper wants to turn hard right.

Perhaps I am way off the mark here but that is the best explanation I can come up with for this
Recommend this Post

Friday, July 3, 2009

I am the GG. Coup coup ca choo

Two consecutive posts on Susan Delacourt's blog highlight the dangerous mental outlook and predilictions of our Prime Minister.

The first could be a snippet from 1984.

Sorry we don't speak Liberal

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon is due to announce "an important initiative to support the language industry in Canada" tomorow, across the river in Gatineau Quebec.

Presumably, judging from this article in Embassy magazine, Mr Cannon won't be introducing anything to support the *Liberal* language industry.

DFAIT insiders tell Embassy that since the Conservative government took power in 2006, political staffers have directed rank and file Foreign Affairs bureaucrats to stop using policy language created by the former Liberal government.

"There are phrases you are not supposed to use," said one Canadian diplomat, on condition of anonymity. "Anything that smacks of the previous government is totally verboten.

"There is this tendency, almost like a knee-jerk reaction, to discount or ignore or change whatever it is the Liberals did and let's put a new Conservative face on it," he added. "There's a whole range of words and expressions that are being depopulated out of the documents, and are replaced with ones that are more to the [Conservatives'] liking."

Chief among the forbidden phrases, multiple DFAIT insiders have told Embassy, are "human security," "public diplomacy" and "good governance." Preferred key words include "human rights," the "rule of law," and "democracy" or "democratic development."

In other words, let Big Brother guide you in the politically correct way to think and speak.

And then in another attempt to create a personality cult;

At ease, Canadians

Early into his first term as Prime Minister, Stephen Harper mused aloud about how he wished Canadian reporters would stand when he entered the room. I believe the collective reply to this musing had something to do with weather forecasts and the temperature in hell.

But yesterday, on Canada Day, Global TV news showed us how Harper managed to get the military to give him a salute that's normally reserved for the Governor-General. As Heritage Minister James Moore explains in the video, this was something that the Prime Minister apparently wanted.

So if you do run across our Tim Horton's, hockey-dad, regular-guy PM this summer on the barbecue circuit, give him a little salute. Or stand up, or something. He really seems to appreciate deference.

This is another example of why Harper is so dangerous beyond the megalomania. Should he ever be given a majority government he would take on the mantle of a monarch. Assuming the prerogatives of the Governor-General is a dangerous precedent in blurring the line between the Prime Minister as head of government and the Queen (through her representative, the Governor-General) as head of state. Assuming these privileges is more than a breach of protocol, it is a step towards a coup. Don't forget. Ministers of this government threatened to "Go over the head" of the Governor-General if she didn't accede to her request to prorogue Parliament.

Update: (6:27 A.M.): Impolitical has highlighted a LTE with a similar point.
Recommend this Post