Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Rothstein grillin'

Further to my post below on Harper drawn our attention to the senate, another item where our attention was focused yesterday was our new Supreme Court of Canada Judge, Marshall Rothstein.

Ask me to name the other judges? Can you? Nope. Well, I now know something about this Rothstein guy, starting with his name. I now know he worked on a dining car on the train and got a sense of how diverse Canada is. And he seems like a smart, well-qualified individual for the job. I'm now confident he'll do a good job and make good decisions. I wouldn't have known that before.

Would my attention have been drawn with just a straight appointment and no review? No. I wouldn't have bothered. But the adhoc judicial committee interview with Rothstein from yesterday is all over the news now and was televised.

Do you feel somewhat more engaged into what this new Harper government is doing? I certainly am.

Day by day

This is one of the moments where I like to say, "I toada so!" And you're thinking this is a post on Stockwell Day. Sort of, but not really.

If there's one thing Stephen Harper has learned is that he understands the attention span of the average Canadian voter. During the campaign he made a small announcement day by day and controlled the agenda for most of the first half then when the Liberals played catch up, it was just enough to prevent a Conservative majority.

Now, as Prime Minister, Stephen Harper has been making small announcements day by day and is actually making decisions. While there are a few politically sensitive areas such as Kyoto, gun control, and missile defence that this new government is side stepping through, we have a better idea where the country is going compared to Paul Martin.

With Michael Fortier's appointment to the Senate (official today actually), much attention was drawn to the upper chamber. Most Canadians don't hear much about our Senators, and most can't even name their own--thus making it difficult to keep them accountable, which they are not at all. But now they're paying attention. If a Senator can be made a cabinet minister, which is true, then how can he or she be held accountable? Well, "experts" are saying, "Well, no, Fortier cannot be held accountable for his Public Works Ministry."

So with all that, Harper actually put out the bait, a pawn if you will to sacrifice. He has told the premiers that this fall they will begin talks on how senatorial elections should be done, then Harper will appoint the winner(s). Currently, Bert Brown from Alberta is the only senator-in-waiting. He's now next to be appointed.

This is a huge first step. Ultimately, the BEST scenario for Canada would be an EQUAL Senate, but that one would require constitutional change. We'll see how these elections go, and if looked upon favorably, perhaps opening up the constitution for senate reform ONLY would be the way to go. The big problem with the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords was there was too many changes, too many things on the table.

Now, hopefully everyone will forget about Fortier's appointment and we can move on, day by day.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Olympia!

Wow. Despite the supreme suckiness of the men's hockey team, I'm blown away by Canada's olympians at this year's winter games. We are so proud of you. Here's a recap of who won what.

These 24 medals put us in 3rd place and our highest showing ever. Our previous best was 17 medals in 2002 at Salt Lake City. Are we poised to win even more in Vancouver in 2010?

I now have a new favourite sport to watch--women's short track speed skating.

The women did remarkably well...especially Cindy Klassen, who won 5 medals!

Gold in the 1500m.
Silver in the 1000m.
Silver in the team pursuit.
Bronze in the 3000m.
Bronze in the 5000m.

Other bloggers...

There's not much for me to say today, because everyone else has said it... so here are a few of my fave blogs:

Stephen Taylor points out NDP MP Joe Comartin's hypocracy on the new adhoc judicial committee.

Steve Janke at AGWN points out why nationalized day care ultimately points out the goal of liberal socialism.

Dark Blue Tory has a made few good posts recently:

Friday, February 24, 2006

The True North Strong and Free

Recent announcements by Defence Minister Bill O'Conner and Stephen Harper's pledge to boost military spending and personnel is badly needed in this country. Yes, badly.

There are estimates that about 30% of the personnel are bureaucrats in Ottawa. This needs to be reduced obviously. We also have way too many generals. They should retire. Basically, the DND is top-heavy. Not surprised. It needs a big audit. Sheila Fraser?

While our pilots and troops are some of the best in the world, our equipment is old and faulty.

During WWI, WWII, and the Korean War, we accomplished a lot for world peace. We made an impact that is still remembered today, especially in Europe. We have few of those heroes left today, but they give us such pride and such gratitude. Most importantly, they gave us peace. Soon that feeling will be gone. And that is very sad. They are the reason why it's a good idea to wear a maple-leaf on a backpack while travelling in Europe.

Canada needs to restore its national pride, not by continued Liberal centralization and a big intrusive federal government, but with a strong and proud military and our continued relationship with the U.S. without having to rely on them as much.

Canada has become a pimple on world affairs. Sure we're a middle power, but that influence has deteriorated.

Some have said that it would be difficult to recruit and train more people because not many are signing up. Well no kidding. Not when the military has been gutted and neglected as it has under Liberal rule. Pay the troops more for their service. Get better equipment. If you build it, they will come. Yes, it's going to cost more, but when failed programs like the gun registry and the billions more squandered can't instead be put into national pride and security, then we have our priorities mixed up.

Prime Minister Harper has already stated we should reclaim our sovereignty in the Northwest Passage. Checkmark!

He's also looking to visit the troops in Afghanistan. Gold star!

Canada needs to become the True North Strong and Free again. Stephen Harper appears to be returning that pride.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Graham's 1st Contradiction

More from Bill Graham on the current Liblead.

Last week he said the Liberals don't have to support the gov't, but now he doesn't expect an election soon. Whatever.

And if Paul Martin is "categorical" in his decision not to make a come back, then why doesn't he just completely step down and have Bill Graham as the full interim leader? Why why why?

Ralphie boy

I didn't watch his Throne Speech. Whenever I hear that, I always picture King Ralph with a crown (maybe a Crown Royal?). Oh wait, he doesn't drink anymore.

A friend of mine who worked as a bartender at a local golf club lounge was mixing drinks for people during a political function and he told me that he saw Ralph at the end of the bar, not looking too happy while drinking a virgin cocktail. He said he almost looked depressed. Ralph's good days were long-ago. After that, his arrogance was evident during a drunken night when he threw his change at some down-trodden people. After that, I just couldn't support him anymore. Then he quit drinking after that and I think he's lost his spark.

I didn't vote for the PCs last time around. I started to work on a friend's local PC campaign, but then I saw a Premier who was vision-less and who didn't have any plan for "our bright future" at all. The PCs have been in power since 1971, a year before I was born. It's time for a change.

NDP leader Brian Mason recently stated that "anyone" could have managed the provinces finances with the amount of oil revenue streaming in. He's exactly right. Ralph and Co. have been over-spending on all sorts of things, while people continue to die on Highway 63 to Ft. McMurray because it hasn't been twinned yet. Get 'er done! And many other things.

Albertans like Ralph because he's folksy yet hard-nosed in dealing with the federal gov't. He made some tough decisions in the early-mid 90's, but with help from current leadership contender, Jim Dinning, and ol' energy minister, Steve "The Knife" West.

So where is Alberta going from here? Debt is paid off, so now it's time to save. Ralph said they should put back a billion into the Heritage Trust Fund. Well, after he has pillaged from the fund over the years to pay for his over-spending, I would hope he should.

But why not also help out low-middle income earners by getting rid of the $45/month health care premiums? It rakes in just under a billion a year and really hurts men and women over 25, especially single parents. My company pays for mine, so I don't even notice. But I remember when I did have to pay them. What a pain in the ass they were. It's just a tax. It goes into general revenue.

And speaking of health care, people who can pay are now jumping queues. This just isn't right. Why bother with the premiums which hurt the people who can't pay then?

The PCs are having their annual convention and will have a leadership confidence vote. Rumblings are that Jim Dinning' camp is gunning for a Paul Martin coup d'etat and have Ralph get below 70%. I suggest they vote 85% in favour, in exchange for a deal for Ralph to bow out gracefully.

Anyway, I'll be glad to see Ralph go. It's been a slice.

Casting a shadow

The opposition Liberals, i.e. Team Graham, have unveiled their shadow cabinet with 41 critic roles. With a reduced Harper cabinet, there's going to be a lot of double-teaming going on.

One of the top critic spots is John McCallum as finance critic. I just don't think he's going to fair very well there. I still reel at recalling Stephen Harper's bang-on imitation of McCallum at the Press Gallery Dinner in 2005. That was hilarious.

I think the top performers will be Scott Brison critiquing Rona Ambrose on environment and Stephane Dion zipping Peter Mackay on foreign affairs.

Other than that, the Liberals don't have a lot of credibility. Harper has already outlined his priorities and if the Liberals try to bring up other items, any cabinet minister can just say, "The Liberals had 12 years to fix it and they didn't."

Look to the NDP to be more feisty. The Bloc will be more cooperative than they were with the Liberals.

I think Harper will do very well during Question Period.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Supreme Club of Canada

Andrew Coyne sums it up best. Boy, does he ever sum it up about the elite culture in Ottawa.

But there's been some discussion on FreeDominion regarding this adhoc committee process that Harper and Toews have come up with as opposed to Conservative Party policy that the judge will be voted on by a free vote in the House of Commons.

Then people say, well the House doesn't sit for another month, then some say, well, why does the vacancy need to be filled so soon, and so on.

All valid points, but again, let's look at the big picture here. Some are expecting everything to all of a sudden change overnight in Ottawa. It's quite the daunting task, especially only after a couple weeks. Incremental changes. Sometimes its necessary to sacrifice a pawn, or even a rook to win. This adhoc review committee is a step in the right direction. Not exactly CPC policy, but a step that way. The next supposed vacancy is 2012.

Patience people. It's going to take some time...especially in a minority. To go in and crash and burn won't work with the way the management system is setup in the bureaucracy.

Monday, February 20, 2006

House of Cards & Adhocs

Cards...
So Public Safety Minister, Lock Stockwell Day and Two Smokin' Barrells, has been talking about the national ID card. He says it's "inevitable". I didn't like the idea when the Libs brought it up, and I don't like it now. I don't even like the SIN number idea. Perhaps passports could be beefed up, but "biometric data" on the card? Come on. At what point in a free society do individuals have to register their DNA? Answer? When they commit a crime.

Adhocs...
From the PMO: "Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced the process that will be used to fill the current vacancy on the Supreme Court of Canada. At the centre of the process is a publicly televised appearance by the nominee before the Ad Hoc Committee to Review a Nominee for the Supreme Court of Canada."

What does this mean? This means we get to see more of those cute furry Santa Claus outfits that our Supreme Court justices have to wear on the bench. Don't you just feel like jumping on their lap and asking for a toy train? Okay, maybe not a toy train, but perhaps tougher sentences.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Stockwell Day goes all the way!

Angry has a couple posts on StockDay's new job. One here, and one here.

As I said earlier, the gun registry is just further down the iceberg. There's going to be more revelations.

Do you think another reason why AlRock didn't run for the Liblead is he was the cabmin when the gun reg was implemented and now Stock and Co. along with the AudGen are possibly going to find another scandal linking him? Perhaps?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Someone is optimistic...

This article from Paul Jackson in the Calgary Sun sure gives a lot of hope to Conservatives.

While I agree that Harper can only improve in Quebec and that we've only seen the tip of the iceberg to the Liberal scandals, Liberals know how to play dirty.

Needless to say, once the GST cut happens and the $100 per month per child for families kicks in by summer, you're going to see a lot of happy people out there.

It's 1980

All in one day... Hmmm... this says the Liberals aren't propping up the gov't, will defeat it if necessary, even without a new "leader", and this has Paul Martin popping his head up at the same time.

Martin was supposed to completely step down. But days later, he said he would remain party leader while Bill Graham was leader of the opposition by "tradition". Well actually, tradition is usually that a full interim leader is named to head the party and caucus.

As well, notice how no one (except for one nobody) is running for the leadership of the Liberals?

You see what I'm getting at here folks? Does this guy think he's Trudeau in 1980 or something?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Bits n Pieces

Chantel Hebert from the Toronto Star, explains another point why anti-floor crossing legislation would be bad for Canada. She's one of my faves.

Mike Wilson reappears! I didn't know he was the co-chair for the Conservative campaign in Ontario. Well, there go the rumous of Preston Manning becoming ambassador. What's ironic is that the reason Stephen Harper quit the old Progressive Conservative Party back in the late 80's to join Reform was his distaste for their policies. Hmmm, wasn't Mike Wilson the Finance Minister back then -- the guy who introduced the GST that Harper is trying to cut now? I'm just sayin'! (I wonder what my buddy, who was Wilson's EA way back, thinks about this.)

John Reynolds disappears! The guy who setup the whole Emerson deal has left the building. As campaign chair, he did an impecible job. He was also great when he was interim leader of the Canadian Alliance, when 4 years ago, after Canada won Olympic gold in hockey, asked Jean Chretien in question period, "Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister. Hey, how 'bout that Joe Sakic?" Gold. Pure gold.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Emerson and Fortier not stepping down. Now what?

Emerson is not leaving. Despite NDP and Liberal partisanship, riding polls, there will be no by-election, no recall. Why? Because no law exists.

Even if anti-floor-crossing (AFC) legislation is introduced through a private-member's bill, it will get defeated ... again.

Was Emerson's floor-crossing ethical? Depends on what his motives were. Unlike Stronach, he didn't cross to prop-up a corrupt gov't that was about to fall. He wants to continue on the softwood lumber deal, which was ready to go before, but Paul Martin supposedly delayed it (the verdict is still out on that one). He may not even seek re-election, nor has he any leadership ambitions.

Michel Fortier is in cabinet because Harper appointed him to the Senate. He didn't even want to run in an election. Harper needed some Montreal representation in cabinet, but the senatorial region Fortier represents in Quebec isn't Montreal. I'm a bit confused. However, Fortier will be held accountable in the Senate.

Regardless, both appointments are legal, part of our British parliamentary system and neither minister is stepping down.

So now what? What's happened?

- Liberals are calling for Senate question period to be televised. Good idea! How many will actually show up now?
- People are questioning our entire parliamentary system -- in fact, many are just beginning to learn the prinicples behind it and how it actually works.
- People are going back in Canadian political history to see how parties formed, who's switched parties, even in Britain.
- People want to recall their MP on a single issue rather than the whole record
- People are in a rage that this can all legally occur.

So throughout this whole charade, people seem to be wishing for a democratic system that is truly responsive of the people--a system where senators are elected. The executive is truly separate from the legislature. Recall isn't necessary because MPs are elected every two years. Proportional representation isn't required because the regions are balanced out by an equal senate. Where elected committees approve judicial appointments. Where elected officials aren't whipped into towing the party line every time, where they have a free vote, truly representative of their constituents. Where the head of state is directly elected by the people.

Hmmm ... gee, what country has a system like that?

Has Prime Minister Stephen Harper got your attention?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Silent Fear

I haven't made a post on the Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed yet because I've been on an endless debate about Harper's cabinet picks and our parliamentary system. Frankly, I'm tired of it.

So here we go!

Words such as tolerance, respect, dignity, tact, freedom come to mind.

But so does hypocracy, intolerance, fanatisicm, hatred, but the worst is fear.

Whether publishing comics that inflame religious views should be allowed or not is but a small inked cloud to the greater problem this world is facing ... again. You'd think 1000 years would change people's views.

It's the Crusades, but potentially much worse.

With reports that Saddam's WMDs were hidden in Syria, that there's a nutjob in power in Iran who wants nuclear arms, Hamas in power in Palestine, and that this whole anti-comic outburst has been planned since September '05 indicates how much of a powderkeg we're standing upon.

I have friends from all religions and we all share the same basic principles and ideals. I know quite a bit about Islam and frankly, I am in great respect of the teachings of the Holy Quran, but disdain at how some have interpreted it and misled others to believe so. Same goes for the Holy Bible and Torah.

And I believe the people of the world share that a lot more now than 1000 years ago. There's a hell of a lot more people, but we're smaller and more connected because 1000 years ago, no one in Persia would have known about a comic in Europe.

So now when any little excuse to inflame hatred emerges, the fire spreads. Not only are some Arabs inflamed at Denmark (thinking that the country is to blame, not the artist), but at Britain, the U.S., Israel, and Canada will come next. So this really isn't about a stupid comic.

People like to label themselves to give them a sense of identity, especially within groups, cultures and religions. It gives them a purpose in life, a reason to exist. Over thousands of years, wars have been fought over religion, power, territorial control to try and create a better society for a particular group because someone thinks they know how to do it best or claims they have a closer understanding with whomever their God is.

I'm sick of all this intolerance. Every religion has it's fanatics, but I just hope that the very large majority in those religious aren't shut out, that those religious leaders who represent them, with faith in humanity speak up and say "love thy neighbour".

All in all, during this time we've been searching for truth.

But the truth is, we're all on this little blue marble together orbiting a big ball of fire, spiraling on a big arm being swept around a big black hole.

And we're trying to make our lives better and easier. So why don't we just simply make our lives better, not just for us, but for those around us and on this planet?

I just hope that our blue marble stays blue.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Harpunked!

On the 4th day of a Harper gov't, even the Liberals are paying attention to the Senate.

Oh my! You've just been harpunked!

Do Liberals have the grit anymore?

You know, with all the Liberal folk who've decided not to run for the leadership there are many reasons. Only one person has declared, and there are still many who've not forged forward (Stronach, Dion, Cauchon, etc.) Why is everyone scared?

Let us compare the Liberal Party now to the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives after the 2000 election.

The Canadian Alliance Party after the 2000 election was:
- In opposition
- Had a defeated party leader who was about to get lambasted and another interim opposition leader put in
- Held 66 seats -- despite a new party, only going up a handful
- Split between many factions
- Ran a very poor campaign
- Didn't have a lot of money, but not in debt

The Progressive Conservative Party after the 2000 election was:
- Still the 5th party in the house
- Had a defeated party leader
- Divided amongst pro-merger and anti-merger
- Had David Orchard run for the leadership
- Massively in debt
- Little grassroots support

The Liberals are now:
- In opposition
- Have a defeated party leader
- Have an interim opposition leader
- Massively in debt
- Still split between two factions
- Ran a very poor campaign
- Just lost a prominent MP to crossing the floor and are hypocrites for opposing it
- Now hold 102 seats - likely 101 after the ruling in Saskatchewan
- May be held accountable for $40 million in further Gomery investigations

But despite all this in both centre-right parties, Stephen Harper and Peter Mackay still both ran for their respective leadership races, won, starting talking, started compromising, ignored detractors, and started leading their own parties to vote for a full-blown merger.

They then led the new party into an election with no policy convention and were still able to gain over 20 seats combined than what each parties had before. Then they became one of the most effective oppositions in history, holding the Liberals to account. This was often in consensus with the other opposition parties, which ultimately led to a full 3-party opposition support of defeating the Liberals.

Then Harper leads one of the best run campaigns in history and forms government, yeah yeah, albiet a minority, but it's still government.

Now also think what Chretien did for the Liberals from 1990 to 1993 and where he took that party. What if Paul Martin did become leader then? Hmmm....

Do these Liberal potential contenders have the grit they were so famous for? Is there a true leader that will lead, build bridges, and unite like Harper has been able to do?

What did Harper really say about switching parties...

Just so there's no confusion. This interview took place on Jan. 19, 2006 on CBC - The National - Your Turn With The Party Leaders:

Peter Mansbridge: Next question is coming from a city you're very familiar with, from Calgary.

Colleen Belisle: Hello, my name is Colleen Belisle and I have a question for Stephen Harper regarding the accountability issue. In the past 18 months, I have noticed a number of MPs crossing the floor after the election. This makes me wonder why I should, as a voter, go and vote when my MP can change parties after the election. Mr. Harper, are there any policies that you plan to enforce after the election regarding this issue? Thank you.

Stephen Harper: My short answer is no. And I understand the voters' frustration. You can imagine I feel that frustration as much as anyone. I was the victim of a number of the particular incidents that the voter is referring to, that Colleen's referring to, but the difficulty, Peter – I know that many members of Parliament have put forward various proposals that would restrict the right of MPs to cross the floor, force elections, or whatever. I haven't seen one yet that convinces me that it would create anything other than a situation where party leaders have even more power over the individual members of Parliament. And, as you know, I've said that, of course, I've said that for a long time that I think our members of Parliament need more authority, need to be able to represent their constituents' views, and they may make very bad decisions in crossing from a good party to a bad party or, more particularly, a winning party to a losing party. But that all said, I haven't seen one yet that I'm convinced creates a bigger problem than it's actually trying to fix.

Peter Mansbridge: Do you think voters are as uncomfortable as Ms. Belisle points out when these kinds of things happen? Because if they are, one assumes that they are looking for direction from their political leaders to prevent this from happening. As you pointed out, some parties, the NDP has said it would force an immediate election. Do you think something has to be done?

Stephen Harper: Let me give a concrete example of an alternative situation. The Conservative Party of Canada, the new Conservative Party was created because people left actually no less than three separate old caucuses, two old parties, and joined with a new party, and I think there is widespread consensus among not just members of the old parties, but members of the public as well that this was a good thing to create a stronger opposition, to end the fragmentation of the conservative movement in the country.

Now, you know, this kind of law could have forced us into a situation where we were having 75 byelections. So, you know, that's a problem with any of these proposals. We understand, I understand why people want them, and, believe me, there's a couple of cases that have happened where I'd love to have a law like this, but there's also a lot of downsides when you think it through. As I say, in a practical matter, I could see how party leaders could really abuse that particular provision to make it even more difficult for members who may disagree legitimately with their party to operate within the party.

Stephen Harper was already, what, 3 weeks ahead of the debate that everyone is having now.

Despite their opinions, voters have to remember that we elect individuals to the House of Commons, not parties. Parties are a mechanism by which a common platform can be presented. A government is formed not by which party has the most seats, but which person in the House has the confidence of the largest and most stable caucus. Semantics, I know, but very important.

Right now, if the Conservatives and NDP wanted to join up and form a majority coalition government, they could (125 + 29 = 154 and the speaker didn't come from this coalition). The Prime Minister can appoint anyone to cabinet, although tradition says it's an MP.

Generally though, the NDP can't seem to understand how our parliamentary system works. Their calls for distributed proportional representation are solely based on party vote percentage, where in our system, we elect individuals. While I could agree with a single-transferrable-ballot system, I really think it would be too confusing and there would be a lot of rejected ballots. I've been a scruitineer a couple times--believe me, there would be a lot of confused voters out there.

But again ... and again ... if we had an elected and equal senate it would balance this all out.

Appointed before elected

St├ęphane Dion, touted as a potential Liberal leadership candidate, was appointed to cabinet back on January 25, 1996 by then PM, Jean Chr├ętien. But he wasn't elected yet, nor was he appointed to the Senate.

Two months later, he was elected MP for the Quebec riding of Saint-Laurent-Cartierville in a by-election on March 25, 1996 following the resignation of Shirley Maheu Jan 31, 1996.

That was ten years ago.

I haven't heard anyone in the media mention this, but many bloggers have.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Back to Fortier...

MONDAY FEB. 6: Harper is sworn in as the 22nd Prime Minister. Appoints his main guy, Michael Fortier, in Montreal to the Senate to fill a cabinet post of a ministry rife with Liberal corruption and says it's only temporary until the next election when Fortier would run for MP.

Hmmm, DOES ANYONE RECALL HOW STEPHANE DION GOT A CABINET POST before he was elected?

TUESDAY FEB. 7: Everyone is miffed (including Conservative MPs but except Montrealers) about this sneaky appointment to the Senate when Harper said he'll have elections for vacant seats.

WEDNESDAY FEB. 8: Prime Minster Harper says he'll hold Senate elections for the vacant seats in the next election. Hmmm, what if Fortier is one of the candidates?

QUICK RECAP: This guy moves quickly. While we've all been waiting for decades, he's been Prime Minister for 3 days and look at all the attention he's drawing to it.

He's already won the game and you're still playing catchup.

And for the record...

For the record, I've never been a fan of recall, referendum. What's the point in having MPs and elections then?

If we had a Triple E Senate to balance this all out, perhaps many wouldn't be asking for these piece-meal band-aid solutions or the many different forms of proportional representation. The NDP want prop rep because they want to abolish the Senate altogether.

See what Harper made me do? I'm blathering on about Senate reform again. Are others?

Never say never...

Yeah, I know, you've read my blog over the last few days and note that while I'm disgusted by the appointments, I end up defending them. It took some soul searching and deep thought.

But what happened will never change my mind about how screwed up our political system is and how much reform it needs.

Am I glad the Liberals lost a strong MP and the Conservatives gained one? Of course.

Am I a bit upset that some long-time MPs got shut out of a cabinet post while a card carrying Liberal gets one? Yep, but I'll get over it --they'll get spots in the next majority gov't.

Do I think Belinda crossed the floor only for gaining more power and no other reason? Oh yes.

Do I think Emerson crossed the floor for the same reason? No. I honestly believe he was only looking out for the best needs of his constituents, his province, and his country. He wasn't finished his work and he's stated emphatically he has no leadership ambitions, unlike Belinda.

Would I prefer elected Senators? Oh yes, definitely.

Do I care if we need cabinet representation from every part of the country? Hell, no.

But again, if we had a Triple E Senate and free votes, none of this would matter.

Still cross over crossing?

Kate mentions a very very very very very important technical point that everyone has seemed to have overlooked in regards to "crossing the floor".

When the Conservative Party was created only a couple years ago, didn't dozens of Canadian Alliance and a few Progressive Conservative MPs "cross the floor"? And what about when Deb Grey and the Democratic Representative Caucus came back into the Alliance fold after Harper was elected? How many freakin' by-elections would that have been?

We have to remember that in the House of Commons, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A POLITICAL PARTY. They're grouped by CAUCUSES. This is an important aspect of our parliamentary system.

And what about when Robert Borden formed the Unionist coalition with the Liberals and Conservatives back in 1917? There were all sorts of parties/caucuses back then:

144 Unionist
69 Opposition (Laurier Liberal)
11 Liberal (Unionist)
5 Liberal
4 Conservative
1 Nationalist Liberal
1 Progressive
2 United Farmers
1 United Farmers of Ontario
1 United Farmers of Ontario-Labour

So just because someone crosses, doesn't mean it's unethical, but it does depend on the circumstances. The system allows it for a reason and has allowed it since 1867. We don't need a law preventing it from happening. Do they have such a law in Britain and Australia?

But you see, in the U.S., because they have free votes on everything, no one cares if a congressman switches parties. In fact, it rarely happens at all.

The only part of this that I don't like is whether someone was offered something in return for switching. While I actually don't believe it reflects badly on those offering, but on the person who accepts.

The Bigger Picture

Okay, this is my last post regarding the Emerson defection and appointment. Let's look at the reality of it all.

What if he wasn't appointed to cabinet? Would there be the hubbub on the Conservative side? No. While many Conservative MPs don't agree with floor-crossing, would they have cared before Belinda crossed and was appointed to Martin's cabinet? Probably not.

Liberals are ticked that he defected but you think they're pissed because he's in cabinet? Hell no. Some are probably quietly saying, "Those sneaky bastards. You gotta give it to them. They know how to play."

I've read this man's credentials and I must say, I am impressed. No one, and I mean, no one is denying that Emerson isn't the best person to deal with trade at this time especially considering the softwood lumber pact. The issue hasn't been resolved yet and Emerson has more experience than anyone in Canada to deal with it more quickly and efficiently. He's also now the closest government MP to deal with the Olympics in Vancouver.

So you have to ask yourself ... at the present moment what's best for Canada?

I don't hear many Montrealers complaining about the Fortier appointment either.

In principle, I don't like either appointment. Whenever Chretien would appoint someone to the Senate, the opposition would cry afoul he or she wasn't elected. But then Chretien would defend it saying you can't deny that they're not highly qualified and deserving, which was the case most of the time, despite much cronyism.

Perhaps Harper does have a hidden agenda though--drawing attention to the need for senate reform. Because as long as the system in place exists, then there's the perfectly legal opportunity to do what Harper did in appointing Fortier.

Again, like chess, Stephen Harper could be several moves ahead of us and is drawing us toward a checkmate on true senate reform. He knows he can't do that in a minority situation, so not only do these appointments start a potential gain in Vancouver and Montreal for the next election, they also draw attention to the bigger picture--and that is true democractic reform in this country.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Preston Manning - U.S. Ambassador?

I am not surprised by this rumour. This would be very fitting for such a great man and a true statesman. Not only does he deserve such an honourable post, he'll do a great job at it as well.

Of all the politicians I have ever met, Preston Manning is one of the most sincere and genuine. He always took time to have a picture taken with our young group of whippersnappers.

I remember at a Reform Party rally back in 1997 when I was the Reform Club prez, I broke through the masses and media after his speech to wish him luck on behalf the club and he replied, "And thank you for all the hard work you guys are doing here." That really meant a lot. Well, as far as we knew, we were the largest political club in Canada at the time with over 120 members, but that's beside the point.

Hypocracy in Circles

Belinda's been responding to everything Harper in the past couple weeks since the election. But this I am shocked she say anything about:

"David Emerson is a fine individual. But I look at what Harper did and said
when I left the party and I look at what he did to get David to come over and
you have to conclude that's a double standard and hypocritical," said Stronach,
a former Tory MP who crossed thefloor to join the Liberals last year.

So she justifies her defection by unjustifying Emerson's defection. Actually she's not really attacking Emerson, but Harper himself. I think my head is going to explode.

Belinda: "En anglais, s'il vous plait?"

Reporter: "Non."

Jeremy spoke in court today

A judicial recount has been ordered in Northern Sask. I really hope Jeremy Harrison wins this one again. He's a very bright, young, hardworking guy.

Back in 2001, I remember talking to Jeremy at a Mike Nickel for Mayor event about the current defections in the Canadian Alliance, attacks against Stock Day and their single digit place in the polls. I told him that I thought the Canadian Alliance was dead and wouldn't last. He said, "I still believe in the Alliance." I wonder what he really thought. He went on to become a National Councillor though.

But even when Harper took over the Alliance and repeated in his speech to cheering delegates at the 2002 Convention in Edmonton: "The Canadian Alliance Party is strong and the Canadian Alliance Party is here to stay!" I thought to myself he had to be kidding. There's no way they could win with the PCs still around.

I remember seeing Peter Mackay poking around at the Convention as well. I wondered if Harper and Mackay saw each other from across a crowded convention room floor.

But I digress. Lets hope Jeremy wins!

I Have A Dream

Last night I had an eery dream. For some reason, I thought I heard on the radio that Stockwell Day said he didn't like the Emerson or Fortier postings as they were undemocratic and decided he would rather drop his post and sit as an independent.

Then I watched the news and saw several old Reform MPs like Deb Grey, Chuck Strahl, Diane Ablonczy gathering outside the Parliament buildings wearing green shirts. They interviewed Deb and she said, "Here we go again!"

Then I woke up and thought I'd better find out what happened on the news. Thankfully, nothing, but you know... I wouldn't be surprised.

I still wonder how much different a Harper majority gov't cabinet would look like. So that said, it's obvious now that Prime Minister Harper is already looking to the next election to build a majority. The dream isn't so eery anymore.

Monday, February 06, 2006

No wait...

No wait, nevermind "understandable". I think this Michel Fortier appointment to the Senate and this David Emerson turncoat and cabinet posts for both is disgusting.

It flies in the face of the things I stand for -- and that is democracy.

Emerson was elected as a Liberal and Fortier wasn't elected at all.
Emerson was elected in Vancouver and Fortier is from Montreal.

So Harper appears to be appeasing the big cities.

Hmmm.. your pick, short term appeasement of big cities vs. long term democratic reform.

Conservative Cabinet Comments

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Emerson.
Emerson who?
Emerson nice cabinet picks.

It's now official and we can say Prime Minister Stephen Harper -- the guy whose leadership campaign I was on back in December 2001.

Andrew Coyne has a quick rundown on the new cabinet. My comments...

Two things that bug me, but are understandable to a degree in this minority situation as the standings are now:

CPC -- 125
Lib -- 102
Bloc -- 51
NDP -- 29
Ind -- 1

Which means the NDP now have that balance of power. 125 + 29 = 154 = 50% of the House. Even if you add up the Libs + Bloc + Ind. = 154, BUT the House is likely to choose Peter Milliken as Speaker again, so drop the Libs to 101. THEN if the votes in Northern Saskatchewan get overturned, Libs drop to 100 and CPC up to 126, but we'll have to wait on that.

Anyway...cabinet ...

1) David Emerson crosses the floor from the Liberals and gets a cabinet position! Poof, just like that! If anyone says there wasn't a backroom deal, they can ask Belinda Stronach out on a date. I don't like this. He just got elected as a Liberal.

2) Michael Fortier, although not elected, gets appointed to the Senate and lands a cabinet post.

Okay, three things...

3) Diane Ablonczy and Jay Hill didn't get posts. Both are true old school Reform and, like Deb Grey, I have always admired their tenacity and fortitude. She's been there from the beginning, so when turncoat Emerson gets tapped and a non-elected Senator gets a spot, this is all starting to fly in the face of good Reformers. Jay Hill was an excellent Opposition House Leader.

I say this is all understandable, as Harper had many parameters to deal with in his cabinet formula and in this minority situation. Not having a Deputy PM? What the heck does a Deputy PM do anyway? So, good call, I guess. Perhaps having Diane would make too many Calgary cabmins.

And wow, this cabinet is much smaller. We'll see if they can all handle the work load. My guess is it shouldn't be a problem. I'm wondering if Harper left out some of people for now, while the current team learns and makes mistakes, the next shuffle will see the likes of Diane and Jay.

Rona Ambrose for Environment! She sure has a lot of work to do and will face a lot of lobbying, but she's very smart and down-to-earth. With her being one of the shortest MPs, we'll see how close to the earth she really is! (I know, that was brutal eh?)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

BREAKING: Canadian Sea King helicopter crashes...

MY GOD! Hey Paul, thanks for the crappy helicopters you left us.

I truly feel for our military.

Annoyed to Avoid the Void

From Dissonance and Disrespect regarding Paul Martin's current role as party "leader":

What a fitting end for Martin's leadership. An empty title, void of power
and responsibility, held only to hold the place for an unknown successor. An
asterisk beside a footnote of history.

Reminds me of another quote: "void of all moral worth and totally unfit to be received into this or any other worthy [job]". (Hopefully there's a few of you who find that line familiar. If you do, drop me a line.)

Monte on Kyoto

Couldn't agree with him more.

Canada signing on to the Maurice Strong - Kyoto Protocol was the biggest mistake we ever made.

Kyoto does nothing to address smog and water. Neither did the Liberals, other than give us smoke and mirrors.

No tongue and slip-of-the-tongue

No tongue
I read that a reporter asked Belinda Stronach a question en francais, and Belinda replied "en anglais, s'il vous plait", but the reporter refused. Yep, she sure has what it takes. Now I REALLY hope she wins the Liberal leadership.

Slip-of-the-tongue
Then later, the new Liberal interim leader, Bill Graham, introduced the new deputy leader, Lucienne Robillard as "Lucien Bouchard".

But these are all honest mistakes.

Harper "snubbed" by "Progressive" summit

Joel at Proud to be Canadian has an excellent post on why it's a good thing that Stephen Harper didn't get invited to the international progressive summit (or whatever it's called ... let's say 'Socialist Love-In').

Here's my take on the word "progressive":

Some of you know, I play bass and keyboards in a rock band -- a progressive rock band, trying to emulate bands such Rush, Yes, Dream Theater, Tool, 10cc, etc. The music style itself is difficult to define, always different, hard to keep time with, and sometimes just way out there, but it can also be quite melodic, airy, and fun mixing in various genres.

But being that I'd consider The Beatles the first experimental prog-rock band and the 70's being the best decade of music ever, prog music today is essentially mimmicking the ideas from 30 years ago. Those core ideas of combining classical music with rock are what make it great, so it's really a combination of the best of the old and new, with dashes of rhythmic insanity.

Now back to politics. You see, in Canada, there was a party back in the 20's and 30's called the Progressives. They were a populist movement from the west that, like the Reform Party, became the official opposition. Then in the 40's the leader of the Conservatives in Manitoba somehow got the Prog monicker added to the party name and it stuck until Stephen Harper and Peter Mackay listened to my advice (no not really) and returned to the old name, Conservative -- the one that even Rt. Hon. John Deifenbaker preferred.

I remember just before those Stephen-Peter negotiations in 2003 when Peter said he liked 'progressive' because it meant "moving forward". Sure, in the sense that society would show progress. But towards what?

Like music, "progressive" in the political sense is difficult to define, because while old ideas such as socialism were prevalant, today it seems to mean "socialism lite" or modern liberalism, and in the last election, Paul Martin tried to reign in all the progressives out there (gee I wonder who he was trying to target? Hmmm.)

"Conservative", on the other hand, while you can easily tag on prefixes such as "social", "economic", "environmental", it essentially means "to conserve". Is that "moving forward" or is it being smart and cautious?

Ironically, Peter Mackay, by dropping the name "progressive" actually progressed the merger and now Canada as a whole appears to be making progress with a new Conservative government, but without progressive attached. Confused?

So why did the old P.C. party get creamed in 1993 and eventually die out so badly under super P.C. Joe Clark that they had to merge to survive? Because really, "progressive" and "conservative" cancel each other out, or you can just call it "liberalism". So now, by name, we can hopefully be assured that the Conservative Party won't become just another Liberal Party.

Well, although Tony Blair and the Clintons were invited, with Stephen Harper not being invited to the socialist prog fest, I am further reassured.

Now where's my Spock's Beard CD?

Gomery Gomery Gomery...

It's not just Jean Chretien and Warren Kinsella anymore; some folks are wondering if Judge Gomery isn't a little bias.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Canada now at war with the U.S.?

American troops in Iraq fire at Canadians in vehicle.

"They were coming right for us, with their free health care, gay marriages, dope-smoking, and hockey. We panicked!"

Oh I'm just kidding. But aren't you getting tired of American "friendly" fire?

Don't ever forget the 4 soldiers we lost in Afghanistan.

Good for Goodale...

As an avid advocate for tax cuts of all kinds, I agree with Ralph Goodale on taking the Conservatives to task for hinting at repealing the lower-middle class 1% tax cut from 16% to 15%, which is already in affect, along with the 1% GST cut.

But I'm thinking that Harper and Co. will want to examine the actual books and see if there is wiggle room in the budget. Well, there certainly is, but Goodale may have actually left a deficit after all the pre-election spending announcements made in November.

But really Ralph, you couldn't estimate a budget if it was $100 bucks. If the gov't can afford to overspend above inflation, like you did in November, it can afford even more than a measly 1% tax cut.

Dipper update

Merge Left
In a previous blog post, I mentioned that the Libs and NDP, like the PCs and Alliance/Reform should merge for future success. While I don't want that to happen, someone else thinks it would probably be a good idea.

But...hold on!...
Thar's a candle glowing in the orange Jack-o-layton. Jack, go ahead and not vote for the GST cut then. The Bloc has no reason to block the GST cut as the tax doesn't help Quebec (or does it?).

EDIT: You gotta see these photos of Jack courtesy of Rick Mercer's blog.