Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thursday notes

1. (Embassy)

Still not buying that security angle at all...

2. A good column from Lawrence Martin today, "On the world stage, it's the Regressive Conservatives." The column itemizes a number of Foreign Affairs failings, principally the old school hard line approaches to various international engagements from the Harper crowd and highlights recent reporting which has shown how much the Conservatives have in fact cut back in funding diplomacy:
The Conservatives are in the midst of slashing the foreign affairs budget by $639-million from 2007 levels, while increasing spending on the military by $2.4-billion. If their creed is that guns trump diplomacy, it is being well-heeded.
A 23.8 percent cut in 2 years.

This part really stood out:
" and large, Ottawa is ignoring causes for which it would usually be engaged. Africa is largely forgotten. In Darfur, the International Criminal Court is pursuing a sitting head of state in connection with genocide. But as former justice minister Irwin Cotler points out, Canada – a force in creating the ICC – has shown little interest."
If you've been following Nick Kristof's columns or any of the reporting on the shut out of foreign aid workers from Darfur and the concerns about imminent mass death there, the unfolding tragedy makes our government's perfunctory statement rather meaningless.

3. Burlington Conservative MP Mike Wallace, awesome parliamentarian, in response to the Parliamentary Budget Officer's presentation of "absolutely historic" "quarter to quarter declines" and other economic information indicating the recession will be much sharper and deficits deeper than the Conservative government has predicted:
"How come you didn't show us any positive stuff that Canada's doing?" Conservative MP Mike Wallace said. "We're in better shape, wouldn't you agree, than our American friends? Is there a reason that you've only showed us the negative?"
"I believe part of the issue facing Canada and the world is we need some of the positive stuff. And when the positive stuff does come out it tends to get discounted immediately."
I suppose we could just focus on the "positive stuff," wouldn't that be nice? But pesky Page went on to predict 385,000 jobs would be lost in the first half of this year. Wonder how he could have put a bow on that one. More on the Conservative efforts to paint a rosy picture here, where it is noted that the Conservatives are starting to shut down Page's access to financial data from the Finance Department.

4. Finally, speaking of shutting things down, note the filibustering by Conservatives yesterday at the Commons Committee looking into food safety in the wake of the listeriosis outbreak which killed 20 people...what can you say about such conduct, really?