Friday, February 06, 2009

Friday notes: hole edition

1. CP followed up last night on the Muttart departure with less hagiography from Conservative sources and more realism. They cited some of the less positive influences Muttart has had on our politics, including cherry-picking tax policies for certain voters and excluding others, patriotic branding efforts for the Conservatives and other assorted gems. I was also drawn to the report for CP's irresistible headline: "Departure of rarely seen Tory strategist leaves 'massive hole'." Yes folks, there's a "massive hole" left in the PMO. Conjure up your own images. Or letters. (The folks at Galloping Beaver are having fun with this one too.)

2. Speaking of holes and cherry-picked tax policies: "Audit finds big holes in 'green' programs." An example of excellent Conservative financial mismanagement:
As Opposition leader in August 2005, Harper promised that a Conservative government would provide a tax credit for transit users, part of a plan to boost the party's urban appeal. The Tory government's implementation of the credit has cost the treasury $635 million in the last three years.

The lost tax revenue equated to the government paying between $2,000 and $3,000 for each tonne of greenhouse gases reduced, many times higher than the going price on international carbon markets, Vaughan said yesterday.

Initially, the government said the credit would cut emissions by 220,000 tonnes each year from 2008 to 2012. By last year, however, the forecast had been downgraded, and officials estimated the transit tax credit would lead to an average annual reduction of only 35,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases.

"I think the threshold we probably have for this is somewhere possibly double the $3,000 per tonne," Vaughan told reporters.

Green Leader Elizabeth May said the $635 million program is "about the most expensive way you're ever going to find to reduce greenhouse gases."(emphasis added)
3. There are serious allegations about Canadian involvement in the torture of a British man, the last Brit at Gitmo, back in 2002. "Sarah the Canadian" allegedly interviewed the man prior to brutal torture, as a participant in the process. It is unknown whether this person actually was Canadian or whether someone was impersonating a Canadian. Either way, the allegation is something that needs to be rooted out and forcefully addressed. We can't let the notion stand that Canada would in any way condone or participate in such violations of law.

4. Take that, Tom Flanagan! Globe letter to the editor today rebukes the loquacious professor:
A revolutionary idea
February 6, 2009

Halifax -- It is interesting to see a former "right-hand man" of Stephen Harper pointing out that his former boss would never have done what Michael Ignatieff did: permit principled objection within a caucus (Ignatieff Accused Of 'Weakness' In Letting Newfoundland MPs Vote Against Budget - Feb. 4). Apparently, it's all about appearing strong.

Personally, I prefer wisdom to strength. Strong leaders have a tendency to do terrible things. Wise leaders? Not so much.
5. Take that Tom Flanagan! More:
What Ignatieff seems to have discerned -- and what most everyone in the magical, mysterious bubble of Parliament Hill seems to have missed, is that Canadians are sick to death of business as usual. And the new man in Washington, who makes outrageous statements such as "I screwed up," when he makes a mistake, is reinforcing that sentiment.
In releasing his six Newfoundland MPs from party discipline, Ignatieff sets himself up as the anti-Harper, on a personal level.

And he looks like a guy who's willing to do politics differently, just like the wunderkind to the south.
6. And once more, with gusto...take that Tom Flanagan! Andrew Steele yesterday:
Strength is critical in politics. There is no doubt about that.

But strength is not bullying, ultimatums and "my way or the highway" dictums. That would be overbearing cruelty, not strength.
7. Finally, if you have the time, for those who are so inclined, the footage of Danny Williams on CTV yesterday will not disappoint. Try the 5:00 min mark and following for remarks on Harper and Duffy. Sample fare from other media:
“Mike (Duffy) had his Senate seat in his sights for some time, and he’s going to do whatever he had to do to get it,” said Williams. “Now that he’s there, he’ll continue to do what his master wishes, so when he’s told to say things, they’ll pull his strings and Mike’s jaw will move.”
Now what's better than that on a Friday morning?