Monday, February 28, 2011

NDP Layton wants a referendum to abolish Senate

NDP leader wants a national referendum on abolishing the Senate.

But most Canadians want to keep it and reform it.

~30% want it abolished
~20% want to keep it the way it is
~50% want to keep but reformed

Good luck Jack!  Especially since to abolish it, you need to open the constitution anyway.  And since we're doing that, we might as well reform it.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Evacuation vacuum

I don't get it.  I don't get what goes on in some people's heads.  How they cannot think to be on the safe side is beyond me.

During the uprisings all over North Africa, from Tunisia, Algeria, and Egypt, and the Middle East in Bahrain and Yemen, how then can our fellow Canadians in Libya not want to get the heck out of there knowing that it's likely next to fall.  Why would you stay?  To help with the uprising?  For journalists and aid workers, sure, but for business or pleasure?  Visiting relatives?  Maybe there's something I don't know.  Come on!

And now, they're a bit screwed... for a while anyway.  The flight out of Rome to Tripoli was grounded due to the insurance being pulled out.  Now the government is considering military flights and ships.

Despite my disconcerting feelings here, Godspeed to them and a speedy and safe return to their native homeland should they so desire.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Friends of Mr. Cairo cont'd...

After being in power almost as long as King Tut, Egyptian prez Mubarek stepped down today after saying, just like Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach did last week, he wouldn't step down until September.  That apparently pissed the people off.

Coincidentally, on this day in 1979, the Shah of Iran was overthrown in the Iranian Revolution.  And guess where the Shah went in exile? 


So why no revolution in Alberta?  Come on people!  Stand up!  Let's send Ed to P.E.I.!

Anyway, I don't know what toothpaste is popular in Cairo but our Prime Minister is right on this... 

"I think the old expression is: 'They're not going to put the toothpaste back in the tube on this one.' "  He said Canada would like those in power in Egypt to lead change.

"Get in front of it," he added. "Be part of it, and make a bright future happen for the people of Egypt."
Why do I get the feeling that this isn't what's going to happen?  Especially since Mubarek handed power over to the military.

I don't know.  Call me pessimistic on this one.

Friday, February 04, 2011

The Friends of Mr. Cairo

I haven't commented on the so-called revolution in Egypt yet because the reports are confusing in all the chaos.  Foreign policy and diplomacy are very delicate matters and decisions and taking points should be taken wisely.

The facts from what I've read are that Egyptian President Mubarek has been in power for a very long time, if not one of the longest standing leaders in the world.  Similar in a way to Saddam Hussein's, his regime is not an Islamic fundamentalist one where hoping to instill shiara law is the goal.  That said, human rights abuses and brutality aren't gone either.  Shutting down the Internet is pure dictator-type governance.  He has forged good relations with many nations, including the U.S.  Can't blame him when the U.S. pours billions into 'program's there.

But it's not a democracy... "The worst form of government next to all the others." 

Throughout recent history we've seen governments toppled in a day, leaders overthrown in an instant, only to be taken over by even more brutal dictators backed by their 'people revolution'.  Mao, Castro, Lenin, Hitler, Il Duce, Pol Pot, Hussein, the list goes on and on.  And in many of these cases, chaos is intentionally created, only to have a single leader rise out of the ashes touting "freedom", "order", "unity", and "progress", but backed by a military contingent to enforce the rise to power.  These are not revolutions but well executed coups.  They remind me of Star Wars I, II, and III and the complex plot orchestrated by Darth Sidious in his rise to Emperor of the Galactic Empire.

Anyway, the most difficult part in nation building is the transition to a democracy.  It's never easy.  In general, those countries that do rise out of it become strong and prosperous.  The process is fragile indeed and always will be, but for what's right in the long run for a people, it's by far the best path.

For right now, democratic nations like Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. who have a vested interest in the Middle East, we watch how the players react to events, including our own leaders. 

So what do I know?  The history of building Middle Eastern and North African countries in the first half of the 20th century was shoddy at best.  A lack of understanding of the various Islamic culture groups, the British created the strangest borders.  Democracy was not the result but dictatorships to control the fractious citizenry and maintain order and control.  So much so, that the leadership of many of these nations were in ally with Nazi Germany during WWII.

Today, I know that there are moderate citizens in Muslim nations who see democracy in Israel and now in Iraq and Afghanistan. They see democracy at work in the Western world.  They see revolutions in Tunisia, and a referendum in Sudan creating a new country dividing the former nation by religion.  They want a say in governance, in their lives and not be dictated to.  They are educated. They are religious. They are not extremists but detest Western political influence that has interfered with their self-determination and brought and supported dictators. They are the very silent majority.

That said, underneath the media reports and general public belief of a 'democratic revolution' in Egypt, (and it appears that way because they have a dictatorship so what else is there?) there lurks other forces nipping at the bit to take power... the loud minority.

The Muslim Brotherhood is one of those forces no doubt.  It's a mysterious group with ties to Middle East history dating back to 1926.  It has factions. It has extremists. It has moderates.  It's also banned in Egypt.  It claims to restore the teachings of the Qu'ran in nations through non-violent means, thus not revered by Al-Qaeda.  It has members in Hamas.

In a way, President Mubarek is right.  By stepping down now, chaos WILL ensue.  A slow, peaceful transition to a democracy and a well executed and internationally supervised election process is the only way to ensure stability and especially to prevent extremist factions from quickly rising to power amidst the dust while the people remain in fear and uncertainty. 

Like the rich landscape of Egypt's mightiest and glorious structures, and the symbols and ancient mythology that have stood the test of time, from the chaos, let the sand and dust settle. And hopefully, similar to how the 19th century world was enamoured with its greatness, out of that, Egypt will find itself again, and be revered as a shining democratic and prosperous nation and the envy of the Muslim world.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Alberta leadership update...

For those of you keeping score...


Alberta Party
  • A tale of two Taylors?  Current 3rd term Hinton mayor, Glenn Taylor is being courted. I know folks who are flocking to the Alberta Party all because of Glenn Taylor and the respect he has along the Yellowhead communities.
  • Former Liberal leadership candidate and newly floor crossed MLA Dave Taylor is also being considered her. 
  • Too bad current interim leader Sue Huff isn't going to throw her hat in.

  • Ted Morton, who was quick out of the gate to say he's running.  It's so old news now.  What isn't old is that he thinks he can unite the right by courting back Wildrose Alliance supporters into the "mothership" as he calls it.  Call me crazy, but Ted is more to the right on social issues than Wildrose leader Danielle Smith, a professed libertarian.   

Other names thrown around are:

Now, onto Jim Dinning... elusive this one.  Although the current chancellor of the University of Calgary, you know he sees an opportunity here. "Never say never" he says.  Will it be a Dinning - Morton rematch?  Who will be the spoiler this time?

And another name I'm hearing ... again ... one E. Preston Manning.  Still seen as the elder statesman who never was in government, will he be the great unifier?

For now, both the left and right continue to be divided because of the leadership vacuums.   The Liberals are in shambles.  The Alberta Party is peaking interest because it's the new thing.  The NDP will continue to remain small.  The PCs are seen as fractured but they do have over 70 seats ya know.  The Wildrose Alliance, to me, is the real question mark here.  Will they be able to build strong riding associations and continue to attract good candidates.

If the next legislative session sees five party caucuses in the assembly with a PC minority, then you can be rest assured that Alberta politics will certainly be a heck of lot more interesting--especially for the media.

And maybe that's okay.  Maybe that's what Albertans actually want now rather than the dull history of party monopolies switching every generation.

Wouldn't bother me. It's already appearing to be quite exciting.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Women leading in Alberta...

With PC leader Ed Stelmach eventually resigning, Alberta Liberal leader David Swann stepping down today and everyone turning their eyes on NDP leader Brian Mason to follow suit, think about this scenario of current and potential political party leaders in Alberta...

PCs -- Allison Redford
Liberals -- Laurie Blakeman
Wildrose Alliance -- Danielle Smith (current)
New Democrats -- Rachel Notley
Alberta Party -- Sue Huff (interim)

Kinda interesting don't ya think?  Refreshing I'd say.

h/t: Doug Main via Facebook