Saturday, May 29, 2010
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
The streak of fortune continues.
One of the unwritten stories about Stephen Harper is how the fates continually smile on him. Few Canadian politicians have ever been as fortunate.
The latest break came last week. Just when it appeared the Conservatives were about to lose a huge swath of supportive media in a newspaper sell-off, a darkhorse bidder saved the day.
Liberally-inclined Torstar appeared to be the favourite to win the National Post and the other Canwest papers, all of them in the conservative philosophical corner. The thought of it had the Harper Conservatives climbing the walls. The country’s media landscape was about to change.
But a surprise bid from by a group led by National Post chairman Paul Godfrey saved the day.
Just how sensitive the Conservatives are to media has been demonstrated in their attacks on the CBC for using a pollster, Frank Graves, who says the Liberals should employ a culture war strategy against Harper. What the feverish Tory reaction should tell the Liberals is that such a strategy is a good one.
The break on the newspaper sale followed a highly fortunate turn in January, when just as momentum for a national day of protest against his prorogation of Parliament was building, the Haitian calamity struck. It wiped out all other news and gave Harper a chance to change the dial, which he did effectively with an impressive Haitian relief effort. The prorogue protest went ahead but was half the size it would have been.
In years previous, the wheel of fortune seemed to always spin his way as well. During the coalition crisis he was at death’s doorstep when the opposition parties blew the deal by bringing Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe into a press conference. Then the Governor General saved Harper’s bacon by granting his wish to shut down Parliament, thereby avoiding a confidence vote.
He received a remarkable break in the 2006 election, which brought him to power. Midway through it, the RCMP announced an investigation into the Liberals, which turned momentum in Harper’s favour. Before that, during his opposition days, Harper got the break of a lifetime when the sponsorship scandal exploded, sending the Liberals plummeting in the polls.
He got good breaks in both his Canadian Alliance and Conservative leadership campaigns when no big-name opponents came forward to challenge for the titles. He’s had great fortune as well in drawing weak opposition leaders thus far.
It’s amazing. For other politicians luck usually runs out. For Stephen Harper, it just keeps on coming.
But it just seems unfinished. It must have been frustrating to not be able to pin down that last point.
I can help here. Might I suggest something along the lines of:
With all this luck Mr. Harper cannot not consistently build support beyond the crazies of his base. What happens when the luck runs out. Even a little.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
"But Mr Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning
office for the last nine month."
"Oh yes, well as soon as I heard I went straight round to see
them, yesterday afternoon. You hadn't exactly gone out of your
way to call attention to them had you? I mean like actually
telling anybody or anything."
"But the plans were on display ..."
"On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find
"That's the display department."
"With a torch."
"Ah, well the lights had probably gone."
"So had the stairs."
"But look, you found the notice didn't you?"
"Yes," said Arthur, "yes I did. It was on display in the bottom
of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a
sign on the door saying Beware of the Leopard."
Canadian regulators relaxed offshore drilling regulations late last year, giving the energy industry more flexibility when putting in place safeguards against oil spills.
Previously, companies were required to install specific kinds of equipment, such as safety valves and blowout preventers. The old regulations outlined everything from how companies should cement the casing on an oil well, to how they should conduct pressure tests.
Under the new regulations, which came into force in December, well operators must set environmental-protection goals, list the equipment they will use to achieve those goals and disclose their plans for inspecting, testing and maintaining such gear. But they are not required to install specific equipment.
A spokeswoman for the National Energy Board said the new regulations represent a "modern" approach that allows companies to use different environmental-protection technologies, depending on the nature of the project.
"What if we were to specify that there must be a blowout preventer, and some innovation comes along where there's actually something better?" said Sarah Kiley. "A goal-based approach allows for innovation, that technology advancement."
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Under siege for its anti-abortion stand in foreign policy and silencing of feminist voices at home, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is arguing that what women really want is less crime in Canada.
“Our government has done more than any other government in the history of this country to keep women safe,” says Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose, who is also in charge of the status of women in the Harper government.
“We have introduced new laws to make sure that we keep rapists and murderers off the street and to make sure that we protect children from sexual predators. That is what women want.”
It is a defence that opposition critics are calling strange, especially because Conservatives are also boasting about their plans to wind down the gun registry — not a popular measure among Canadian women, according to most polls.
It isn't to much a stretch to conclude this stand was worked up in the PMO and passed downwards to Ambrose.
At some point we are all asked by a marginally sane supervisor to go out in public and make a statement that has at best a tenuous connection to reality. There are a million shades of grey in a lot of these cases but they always have to pass the "Blush Test". Essentially; can you say it with a straight face. If you can't, you have to step aside and let someone else pick up the standard. Ms. Ambrose must have hay fever this week.
So here we have another example of Mr. Harper's famous command and control tendencies. He has his tentacles throughout his government. Nothing happens that he doesn't control. Senator Ruth exposes some of the hidden agenda. The response is to make a risible claim that women are, as a group, clamouring for what the unworkable crime measures. Despite all evidence to the contrary.
So the pattern is established. But the fact that an eighth department was contacted by Jaffer is in the news today as well. So once again, how is it that an ex-MP has contacted 8 government departments regarding millions of dollars worth of government business and control freak Harper knows nothing?
As these, and future, scandals continue to mount they will get closer to the PMO and change the image of Mr. Angry to that of Mr. Venal. The good news for the Conservatives is that Mulroney will no longer be known as the most corrupt Prime Minister in history.Recommend this Post
Human Resources Minister Diane Finley says her political staff approves everything bureaucrats are allowed to say to reporters, a statement that brought charges of abuse of power from her opponents.
Conservatives defended Finley's close scrutiny of the public servants in her department as a "prudent" example of political oversight that helps to improve transparency and accountability.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
His flippant statement that it couldn't happen in Canada is pure politics. Bad enough in any case. But for an MP from Calgary it is especially galling. The oilfield is a dangerous place. You are working with heavy machinery in adverse weather conditions whether on land or at sea. The people involved are professionals who take care to guard against risks as much as possible.
But things can go very wrong. And when they do, people get hurt. Trying to shut off debate on how Canada can do it's best to avoid such a catastrophe here is just another example of Harper's disregard for others when it suits his political purposes.Recommend this Post
Monday, May 3, 2010
“If you push it, there will be more backlash,” said Ruth, who fears that outrage will push her boss, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, to take further measures against abortion and family planning – abroad, or maybe even in Canada. “This is now a political football. This is not about women’s health in this country.”
- Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Oct. 10)
Sunday, May 2, 2010
the Tories have achieved their initial objective: total strategic confusion...So if the prime minister is still invoking his “legal obligations,” it can only mean his position hasn’t changed a whit. When he speaks of the need to balance one obligation against another, it really means he intends to defy the Speaker and stonewall Parliament.