Friday, August 31, 2007

Public service announcement addressed to Conservatives

Here is your election spending limit for the upcoming Quebec by-elections from Elections Canada:
$171,996.88.
Normally this would just be an administrative, oh, file that away, kind of announcement. But given the news of your "in and out" scheme propagated in the last federal election, it seems to me that you guys need to be reminded that limits are limits. That $171,996.88 means just that. Not to be supplemented by the federal Conservatives buying ads for the locals.

We know you guys need every advantage possible...:) But just so we're clear...

The "possibility of prosecution" and the Conservatives' election spending scheme

The Globe takes the Conservatives to task in an editorial today explaining the highly suspect ad scheme that the Conservatives unhatched in the last federal election and what it means. My thoughts on this today are after the excerpt:
During the last election campaign, as federal Conservatives were vehemently attacking Liberal misdeeds, they were apparently resorting to highly irregular ploys to pay for their expenses. Party officials transferred money to local constituencies and then requested the return of that money to pay for regional advertising buys. Now local Conservative riding representatives are suing Elections Canada in Federal Court, asking for reimbursement of those expenses. Meanwhile, at the request of the Chief Electoral Officer, the Commissioner of Canada Elections is scrutinizing the Tory scheme to see whether the party's chief agent should be prosecuted for violation of the Canada Elections Act.

Whatever the outcome, the mess reflects badly on the party. During the 2006 campaign, the Conservatives proclaimed they would be accountable and transparent even as they were implementing a scheme that apparently circumvented their $18.3-million spending limit. They spent every dime of that allotment, but also transferred about $1.2-million to local candidates who had not spent their own personal maximums. That money was then given back to the party to buy regional ads that were not focused on those individual candidates.

The court case has been a revelation. Ottawa returns 60 per cent of the election expenses of individual candidates if they receive at least 10 per cent of the votes in their riding. When Elections Canada refused to pay for some candidates' advertising tabs, a lawsuit for reimbursement was filed in the name of 34 Conservative supporters. This week, as that list dropped to two official agents for two candidates, the Conservatives maintained that these were "representative cases" that could apply to the other ridings.

But the official agent for the Quebec riding of Richmond-Arthabaska told The Globe and Mail two days ago that she did not know that her name was part of the original case against Elections Canada. The riding's former Tory MP, Jean Landry, said the party deposited $26,000 in his campaign account and then used it to buy advertising that was not specifically related to his campaign. "It wasn't for me," he said. The Tories counter this damaging remark by claiming that Mr. Landry is now flirting with the Liberals.

This is no petty matter. The Canada Elections Act specifically forbids any attempt to circumvent the rules against exceeding limits on campaign spending. Depending on whether an offence was voluntary or not, a party's chief agent could face a fine of up to $5,000 or a jail sentence of up to five years, or both.

The mere possibility of prosecution is a setback for the Conservatives, who promised to do better.
Election-financing rules are not made to be conveniently thwarted. Too clever by half is not clever at all. (emphasis added)
First of all, good for the Globe for shining a light on this mess. Playing fast and loose with election spending is the last thing anybody - especially the Harper Conservatives - should have been doing in the last election. Particularly in Quebec where the sensitivities to impropriety in spending on ads would have been most acute and where the standards followed, not to mention the law, should have been pristine for political parties. Can you imagine, in the wake of the sponsorship scandal and running on the issue, the Conservatives having the chutzpah to attempt such a scheme?

So I'm not surprised that two former Conservative candidates from Quebec, Landry and Martellli, quite willingly told Elections Canada what they knew. That the federal Conservative money they received was not for them. In Martelli's words, it was "scheming. It was money that went "in and out"." These guys likely didn't want to mess around with election spending laws in a politically sensitive climate. They objected when they found out, after the fact, that a lawsuit had been started by the federal party, in their names, to get this money back from taxpayers. In contrast to Martelli and Landry, there are apparently others who have not paid attention to the lessons learned over the past few years.

And the partisan mudslinging from the Conservatives in response to Landry's cooperation with Elections Canada is telling. Landry's flirting with the Liberals now according to the Conservatives. You see, they're playing in Karl Roveland. Attack any notion of objective truth by alleging partisanship. Annnnhhhhh, irrelevant. Alleging partisan ties won't make invoices for advertising magically appear. What's next? Are they going to accuse Elections Canada of being Liberals too? This attempt to undermine the facts by alleging partisanship should be seen for what it likely is, a desperate attempt to shade accountability.

"No petty matter" the Globe writes. That's for sure.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

More on the Conservatives' own adscam

The Citizen's document review seems to narrow the ad buy scheme to Quebec in the days following Harper's "open federalism" speech. A beau risque taken, playing fast and loose with election spending rules, in the hopes of attaining that magical majority? Details from the Citizen suggest a concentrated ad buy that could have made a significant difference in gaining the Conservative seats in Quebec:
The Conservative party launched a program to shift more than $1.2 million in advertising money to Tory candidates during the 2006 election after Stephen Harper delivered a speech on federalism that became the key plank in the party's Quebec campaign.

With the Conservatives seeking a breakthrough in the province, the party began shuffling hundreds of thousands of dollars to agents for Tory candidates in a string of ridings from Gatineau to Quebec City. The agents then channelled the cash back to national party headquarters to pay for large-scale media buys.

A Citizen review of election filings shows that Conservative candidates in Quebec reported paying the federal party $527,000 for radio and TV ads beginning on Jan. 3, 2006 -- two weeks after Mr. Harper promised a "freer federalism" under a Conservative government in a crucial speech in Quebec City.

Mr. Harper's address raised the party's Quebec profile to a new level at the midpoint of an extraordinarily long federal election campaign, and was later seen as a key factor behind the capture of 10 Quebec seats on Jan. 23. The 10 ridings were all in the area blanketed by the Conservative ads.

Conservative support in Quebec public opinion polls rose steadily after Mr. Harper's speech. Through the series of transfers, the party was able to fund advertising in Quebec to capitalize on its surging popularity in the final stretch of the campaign.

Elections Canada has refused to accept the advertising expenses listed by Conservative candidates in the transfer scheme, citing an absence of evidence that they were incurred by the candidates claiming them. At least two Conservatives told Elections Canada auditors they believed the expenses claimed by candidates were, in fact, "national" advertising. Two former Quebec candidates have since told the Citizen the ads were for the larger campaign and did not publicize their own campaigns.

After Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand referred the transactions to the federal elections commissioner for investigation last April, 34 official agents for Conservative candidates took Mr. Mayrand to Federal Court in an attempt to overturn the decision rejecting the expense claims.

If the decision to disallow expenses from the $1.2 million in media buys stands, the Conservatives could be required to count that advertising in the national campaign budget. That would push the Tories over their $18.3-million spending limit for the national campaign, in violation of the Elections Act.

The Conservatives say they are in full compliance with the elections law. The ads in question carried the tagline indicating they were authorized by the official agents of the local candidates, the party says, and candidates were invoiced via the party for the ads. (emphasis added)
And of course, they're fighting Elections Canada tooth and nail now. For as you read this, it certainly appears that the decision's been made by Elections Canada. The Conservatives, in the eyes of Elections Canada, are in violation of the spending limits because the expense claims by local candidates have been disallowed.

Mr. Harper likes to describe himself like this:
Mr. Harper has spent his political career standing up and speaking out for Canadians who work hard, pay their taxes and play by the rules. (emphasis added)
He frequently cites Canadians who "play by the rules" in political speeches.

This is a foundational issue that once again goes to the Conservatives' accountability. Accountability for all others, at all costs, not so much for them.

(h/t to Ken Chapman who's writing about this too)

Conservative election spending scheme blown wide open

The fight the Conservatives have been having, quietly until this week, with Elections Canada is full on in the public spotlight now. Further developments reported in the Globe today suggest the glare's gotten too damn hot. 2 former Conservative candidates are publicly distancing themselves from the matter and raising questions that Harper and his government are going to have to answer about their too cute by half election spending scheme in the last federal election. These candidates are likely embarrassed at their having been included, apparently without their own knowledge, in the Conservative party's highly questionable effort to recover money from the taxpayers as a result of that same election scheme. Needless to say, it's a must read today. Mini Bush has blown to kingdom come any political advantage he may have had over the Liberals in the arena of spending on ads and ethical, lawful practices in doing so.

With reports this week having raised suspicions about the Conservative party's overspending in the last election, it looks like the Conservatives are trying to back off their fight with Elections Canada. After all, it certainly looked bad on 2 fronts. First, because they allegedly overspent in the federal campaign by $1.2 million, in violation of election laws. In a campaign in which they were hammering the Liberals for adscam. And secondly, the reports indicated that 37 financial officers for candidates were now seeking reimbursement - from the taxpayers - for that same-day scheme whereby the federal party transferred the $1.2 million to local candidates and immediately back for ad buys. That money was Conservative party money that went "in and out" of Conservative hands in a matter of hours. Why should taxpayers be reimbursing them for it?

All of a sudden, we learn today, it's no longer 37 financial officers seeking reimbursement. It's suddenly just 2 and these are being called "representative" applicants. But what's big here is the following. One of the now "dropped" financial officers (one of the former group of 37 - or 34, both numbers have been reported) says she didn't know about the case and more significantly, the candidate she acted for in the election - and a second candidate - are basically blowing the whistle on the spending scam:
Lise Vallières, who acted as the official agent for former MP Jean Landry in the Quebec riding of Richmond-Arthabaska, said yesterday she had just discovered that she was part of the initial case against Elections Canada. "Nobody ever asked anything of me," she said. In an interview, Mr. Landry complained that the Conservative Party placed $26,000 in his campaign account during the last election, and then used it to buy advertising that was not specifically related to his own campaign.

"It wasn't for me," Mr. Landry said of the ads.


Elections Canada reimburses 60 per cent of the election expenses of candidates who get at least 10 per cent of the votes in their riding.

Mr. Landry reached the 10-per-cent threshold, but he said he does not qualify for a reimbursement on the $26,000 because he has no proof the advertising was authorized by his official agent.

"Elections Canada does not have to reimburse a cent, because we don't have invoices," Mr. Landry said.

Another defeated Conservative candidate in the last election, Liberato Martelli, referred to the financial transactions as "scheming." Mr. Martelli said he was specifically told by Conservative officials that the $14,000 that was deposited in his account was simply going "in and out." (emphasis added)
Scheming? I'd say. I say these two guys need to be brought in front of the appropriate Commons Committee, and, Elections Canada needs to get a hold of them and pronto. This case for reimbursement sounds just about ripe to be thrown out, as well it should be. These candidates make it clear it wasn't their money, it was federal money. The evidence of overspending by the federal Conservatives certainly looks like it's there. In which case, the full penalties applicable need to be applied to the Conservatives.

Go bloggers, slay those beasts

Hat tips due "...to Blogging a Dead Horse and Frank Frink for riding this beast into the ground" says Dr. Dawg. So let's give them their due.

That beast, of course, being the anti-democratic clusterf%#* perpetrated by the Conservative party in their bumbling attempt to subvert our elected representative government by "appointing" a liaison type person-thingy in the Skeena riding, thereby going around the elected NDP MP, Nathan Cullen. And now the CP story gets picked up in the Globe today.

I'm sure we'll all be on the alert for future beasts, which we know will come...:)

The Katrina anniversary

With all the coverage of Katrina's second anniversary, I thought this video done by the NY Times on the rebuilding of the levees interspersed with commentary from the U.S. Corps of Engineers and local residents was pretty insightful. Some of the residents are still, with good reason, suspicious as heck about the Corps, what it's up to and whether they're now being adequately protected. The interactive feature the Times had has additional video explaining developments around the city. Bush's appearance in the city yesterday was widely, and deservedly, panned by residents and critics. The Times-Picayune editorials from yesterday are well worth the read, particularly this one which decries the disproportionate funding Mississippi has received over Louisiana.

Olbermann's dramatization of the Senator Craig incident



Dragnet style...bravo...:) Check it out to see just how active Craig was, according to the police report's own details, in seeking out um, shall we say, attention, from the neighbouring stall occupant. By peering in, making foot motions and waving under the stall.

Dude, you're toast. Wave bye bye to your Senate buddies and head on back to old Idaho.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Canadian Press now on the BC Conservative "representative" story

There you go, all the bloggers who have been beating the drum on this story, your work is paying off: "Tory says: Forget your MP, talk to our Conservative candidate instead." And Canada's New Government appears to be embarrassed and backing off this anti-democratic clusterf*%# once cornered by the national media. Here's the CP explaining the story:
Forget your duly elected local MP! If you want government services in your riding, you'd be better off going to the local Conservative candidate for the next election instead.

That's the message the Tories have been peddling in a British Columbia riding they don't hold - and now they're vigorously backpedalling.

The Conservatives' caucus chair in the province had been telling radio listeners and public audiences in Skeena-Bulkley Valley riding not to bother with their elected New Democrat MP.

For a better chance at federal funding, speedily returned paperwork, and help with infrastructure projects, Dick Harris told them they should talk instead to the woman who will run for the Conservatives.

"Realistically, to have access to the ministers you know - realistically - you have to be part of the government," Harris, who is also a B.C. MP, said in a radio interview.

"There is sort of a little bit of a pecking order in Parliament."

An area newspaper also quoted him urging constituents to approach the federal government through Sharon Smith - the mayor of Houston, B.C., and the Conservative election candidate.

"Constituents . . . will derive a huge benefit from having direct contact with the government, something they have not had since 2004," Harris said in a story in the Terrace Daily Online.
And here's Ryan Sparrow, backtracking on Harris' manoeuver:
"He just kind of did that himself," government spokesman Ryan Sparrow said of Harris's move.

"(Smith) is the Conservative candidate in the next election. That's her only official capacity."

Sparrow was unequivocal when asked whom local residents should contact for federal help: "They should contact their local member of Parliament. . . Ms. Smith is working hard to be that person after the next election, but for now the riding is held by a New Democrat."
What a sorry track record these bunglers are developing. Looks like the muzzles from central headquarters have been brought out too:
Harris and Smith did not respond to interview requests made to their offices over two days.
What a big freakin' surprise.

Major h/t to Dawg's Blawg and Galloping Beaver on this story...

Latest from Senator Larry Craig: And I'm not bald either

"Idaho Senator Asserts: 'I Never Have Been Gay'."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Did the Conservatives overspend by $1 million in the last election?

This is definitely a story to watch: "Tories need to 'open the books': Dion." For a party so smug in their condemnation of the Liberals' adscam troubles, the Harper Conservatives have got some real chutzpah to have pulled the scheme they did in the last election - and to now be seeking reimbursement from the taxpayers for it.
The fact the federal election watchdog has been called in to review expense claims filed by Conservative candidates underscores the need for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to "open the books,'' Liberal Leader Stephane Dion said Tuesday.

William Corbett, commissioner of Canada Elections, has been asked by Elections Canada to check whether advertising expenses by some Tory candidates were genuinely spent on local TV and radio spots or used to benefit the national campaign.

"It's a very serious issue,'' said Dion, who is holding a three-day Liberal caucus meeting in St. John's.

"We need to know where the expenses have been made in the riding, or by the national machine of the Conservative party, because there is a possibility that this party broke the law and had $1 million in extra spending.''
The transactions at issue:
The Conservatives spent the maximum amount allowed by a political party during the 2006 campaign. In addition, they gave about $1.2-million to local candidates who had not spent their own personal maximum. The money was then given back to the party on the same day to buy ads in regional markets.

Elections Canada is locked in a court battle with 37 financial officers for candidates who want the government - which returns 60 per cent of the election expenses of candidates who get at least 10 per cent of the votes in their riding - to cover the expenditure.

The federal agency refused, arguing that the party, not the candidates, bought the advertising. (emphasis on the hypocrisy added)
So, as an added bonus to the scheme, the Conservative candidates have the nerve to try to get this money, handed to them for just a matter of hours by the federal Conservative party, back from the taxpayers. Nice. Good for Elections Canada for calling bs on this tactic and standing up to the Conservatives. And good for Dion for calling attention to it in advance of the next election.

This is an issue that needs to be taken up in the House when it returns...that little loophole needs to be closed up, real good.

(h/t to Ken Chapman on this)

Not that there's anything wrong with it



Senator Craig, you forgot to add that to your denials...:)

It's a Mini Bush extravaganza in the Globe today


The Strategic Counsel's been given prime real estate in today's Globe to tell the world how Mini Bush can get himself a majority government. Isn't that special? Too bad there's not much in the way of scintillating news here. Despite their best efforts to spin the polling results to make Harper look good, what with their talk of Canadians feeling we're on the "right track" and Conservative supporters being disinclined to switch their votes...the really bad news for Stevie the Conservative boy wonder is that he's stuck at 33% in the polls. Yep. STILL tied with the Liberals and down 3% from his electoral "victory" high. That must just irk him to no end. All that money on "Stephane Dion is not a leader" ads and Dion's still right there, joined at his hip. So sad.

And by the way, if I were asked if the country were on the right or wrong track, I might be inclined to say it's on the right track too. That's because the Harper regime hasn't done anything substantial enough to muck up the solid overall state of affairs in this country that they inherited from the you know whos. And you can bet your bottom dollar that I'm NOT going to be supporting Mini Bush ever, despite my inclination to say the country as a whole is still on the right track. So take that Strategic Counsel brainiacs.

What is not discussed in the "analysis" piece the Counsellors impart to us is the high percentage of NDP and Green voters who are likely to switch their votes. They make much ado about how the Liberal voters might switch in contrast to the Conservative loyalists, yet fail to mention that this voter fluidity is abundant in the center-left voting populus which comprises approximately 70% of the voting public. That's a lot of room for the Liberals to grow from, methinks. Could even be more than Mini Bush has to work with...but nary a word on that.

And please draw your attention to the following analysis of some of Harper's challenges:
He should start by asking himself why they haven't bitten so far. After all, in terms of party standings, the Conservatives are still tied with the Liberals in the low 30s. What's holding them back? The reasons are evident in the data. A large majority of Canadians associate words such as “controlling” and “partisan” with Mr. Harper. They think he's too right-wing. Most believe he's too close to U.S. President George W. Bush. He's not seen as particularly likeable. A majority don't think he cares about people like them. And most Canadians feel his government has accomplished little during its time in office.

Mr. Harper needs to acknowledge that his growth is being held back by what many consider the less attractive aspects of his leadership style. Hand-to-hand combat on the floor of the House of Commons may get his political juices flowing, but it leaves Canadians cold. (emphasis happily added)
Yes, stop being yourself Mini Bush. Be someone else. Can you do that?

P.S. As I always say, we call him Mini Bush for good reason here at the Impolitical blog...:)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Funny

Favourite SiteMeter search terms seen today: "stephen harper's banana republic" and "alberto gonzales dual citizenship"...:) Well done, curious googlers...:)

Love Bill Maher



Discussion on Friday night's show on Iraq.

From Iraq to Iran

The wingnuts surrounding Bush, led by Cheney, are apparently beating the drum for him to attack Iran. The Washington Post willingly got in on the action this week with its editorial, "Tougher on Iran." U.S. military and intelligence sources are increasingly mentioning Iran as a factor in the Iraq conflict as the U.S. congress gears up to "debate" the future of the occupation in September and beyond. Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst throws out the theory that a decision to attack Iran is why Rove left, that it would be ludicrous to support such a move and that he lost a power struggle with Cheney over it.

Just watching the news develop...

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Dark clouds following Rove back to Texas

So writes someone who should know, former Nixon adviser John Dean who speculates on the statutory provisions that may have been violated by Karl Rove and that may have prompted his recent exit from the Washington scene. Here is an excerpt from Dean's Friday column including some of the provisions Dean zeroes in upon:
Given the basically un-cracked secrecy of the Bush Administration, it is not unreasonable to suspect that Rove has managed to accomplish what Nixon failed to do, and that the Bush Administration has undertaken a large-scaled politicalization program throughout the Executive Branch during the past six-plus years.

This, I suspect, is the reason for Rove's resignation. Chairmen Conyers, Leahy, and Waxman are looking closely for such an operation, as are a number of similar but less visible inquiries underway by the Democratic Congress. Thus, the potential for such activities becoming known is very real, and this gathering storm means a few dark clouds are following Rove back to Texas. Should they burst, Rove may have far more serious problems than being in contempt of Congress.

Misusing Federal Powers Can Be a Crime Although Seldom Prosecuted

The Senate Watergate Committee's report set forth an array of civil and criminal laws that are applicable to misuse of government for political purposes. For example, the Hatch Act contains a broad proscription that an employee of an executive agency may not use his or her official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of a federal election. Such conduct has a civil sanction of dismissal from Federal service.

More seriously, it can also be a crime for a federal official to use his or her power for political purposes. On of the broadest federal criminal laws is the conspiracy statute that prohibits defrauding the government. Under federal law, which prescribes punishment by up to five years in prison, such a fraud has been broadly defined.

The leading case is the Supreme Court's 1923 ruling in Hammerschmidt v. United States. There, the Court stated, "To conspire to defraud the United States means primarily to cheat the government out of property or money, but it also means to interfere with or obstruct one of its lawful governmental functions by deceit, craft or trickery, or at least by means that are dishonest. It is not necessary that the government shall be subjected to property or pecuniary loss by the fraud, but only that its legitimate official action and purpose shall be defeated by misrepresentation, chicanery, or the overreaching of those charged with carrying out the governmental intention." Misuse of federal power for political purposes, thus, can fall rather easily within this statute.

There are other criminal statutes that the evidence suggests Rove might have violated, as well. Section 595 of Title 18 prohibits "a person employed in any administrative position" of the Federal Government from using his or her "official authority for the purpose of interfering with, or affecting, the nomination or the election of any candidate for the office of President, Vice President, Presidential elector, Member of the Senate, Member of the House of Representatives…" Violation of this statute can result in a fine or prison up to a year, or both.

Section 600 of Title 18 prohibits promising any Government benefit or "any special consideration in obtaining such benefit, to any person as consideration, favor, or reward for any political activity or for the support of or opposition to any candidate or any political party" in connection with a Federal election. Violation of this "bribery-lite" statute can result in a fine of $1000 or prisons up to a year, or both.

Often, violations of these broad prohibitions, and related laws, are not discovered until an administration has departed, as occurred with the Reagan Administration. By that time, Congress has lost interest and federal prosecutors are not inclined to go after the political behavior of predecessor officials - a judgment call which is probably appropriate, for these are not the most egregious of crimes. Still, these crimes certainly represent conduct that is considered unacceptable.

Such behavior is best dealt with when Congress can expose it to voters, who know exactly what to do with a political party that the places the politics of self-interest above those of the public's interest. This is not to say that if Rove has made an utter mockery of the clear restrictions on politicizing the processes of the Executive Branch, he should be given a pass. To the contrary, Congress should double its efforts to find out why he has left town, and if he has crossed the line, refer the matter to the Department of Justice.

I would be willing to wager that Rove and his cohorts have violated one or more of these laws prohibiting uses of authority at the White House for purely political purposes, but they should only be prosecuted if their behavior was in pure defiance of these restrictions. If that is the case, such laws will, in the end, be meaningless and future Karl Roves will simply ignore laws that seek to protect the public interest.
That Hammerschmidt case holding is very interesting, isn't it? Information to keep in mind as the congressional investigations continue into the fall and in light of Rove's suspicious departure.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Accountability for everyone but Conservatives?

This is a story that deserves attention. It's not exciting, it's not about police going undercover with masks on or anything, but this is foundational stuff for our democracy: "Tories broke regulations on election finances, Liberal officials say." The allegations are that the Conservatives broke the spending limits in the last election:
The Liberals accused the federal Conservatives yesterday of exceeding election spending limits by more than a million dollars in the final days of the 2006 campaign by passing off national advertising costs as money spent by local candidates.

Elections Canada is now locked in a court battle with 37 of the candidates who want the government - which returns 60 per cent of the election expenses of candidates who get at least 10 per cent of the votes in their riding - to reimburse them for the costs.

Barbara McIsaac, a lawyer for the chief electoral officer, says in a court document that they are not entitled to the money because what the Conservatives call a "regional media buy" was "not an expense of the candidates who claimed it but an expense of the party."
...
The court documents show that, largely through local candidates, the Conservatives also spent $1.2-million plus $121,000 in production costs to purchase what they call a "regional media buy."

Mike Donison, who was at the time the party's executive director, outlined the plan in an e-mail to local councillors for distribution to candidates who had not reached their own personal campaign spending limits. The party would bank-wire an amount into the candidate's account and send an invoice to the candidate, Mr. Donison wrote. The candidate would then pay the same amount back into the fund on the same day to cover the cost of the ads.
For a Conservative party who rode into power hypocritically campaigning against the other party's ethics and alleging corruption at every turn, they certainly seemed to play fast and loose themselves...and they need to be called on the carpet for it.

Funny

A play on the shirtless Putin, with a Harper cameo...:) Can you imagine any of our male politicians fishing without a shirt on...:)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The RCMP responds

As does the Surete du Quebec. Both issued brief denials that their officers posed as protesters in order to instigate violence at the Montebellow Summit, as follows:
The RCMP and Quebec police force have denied allegations their officers posed as protesters to try to provoke peaceful demonstrators at the recent Montebello summit.

"I confirm (to) you that there is no agents provocateurs in the Surete du Quebec... It doesn't exist in the Surete du Quebec," spokesperson Const. Melanie Larouche told The Canadian Press.

RCMP Cpl. Luc Bessette said the Mounties do "not use tactics that would encourage confrontation or incite violence."
Pretty scant stuff. Seems pretty unbelievable given the video and the circumstantial evidence. These statements don't seem to preclude either of these forces having contracted out the function though...

A scathing summit review

Haroon Siddiqui certainly doesn't hold back in his criticism today of Harper's showing at the Montebello summit. On Harper's petty partisanship that was so ill thought out for an international event:
Tradition has it that prime ministers avoid domestic partisan politics in the international arena, where they speak for all Canadians.

Yet Prime Minister Stephen Harper used the Montebello summit to attack Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion for questioning the agenda of the conference.

Of course, the prime minister had to defend the meeting. U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexico's Felipe Calderon did so as well. But neither took a cheap shot at their political opponents.

Instead of emulating his guests, Harper followed by skewering Dion yet again, this time in French.
Thank you for reminding your readers just how inappropriate Harper was to be denigrating a domestic political opponent on the international stage. It was, as has been well canvassed, embarrassing.

Siddiqui also slams Harper for failing to raise significant issues with Bush:
As for the two other issues that Canadians wanted raised, Harper didn't – gun trafficking ("more than half of gun crimes committed in Canada's major cities are with guns smuggled from the U.S.," Dion said), and the fate of terror suspect Omar Khadr held by the U.S. at the naval detention centre in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Whether Khadr is a good guy or bad is irrelevant. The issue is one of upholding Canadian values. Do we stand up for a fellow citizen? Do we believe in the rule of law? Do we raise our voices against cruel and unusual punishment?

Knowing what a hellhole Gitmo has been, Britain, France, Germany and even Australia negotiated the release of their nationals. But Canada has been silent on the Ottawa-born Khadr.

In isolated custody for five years, he is broken in spirit and body.

He should be brought home, as demanded by the Canadian Bar Association and many human rights groups. If there's a case against him, he should be charged, given his day in court and, if found guilty, marched off to a Canadian jail.

But Harper didn't say a word. He is either out to curry favour with Bush or believes that the young Canadian deserves to rot in Guantanamo Bay.
Not like he didn't have an opportunity to raise Khadr with Bush, as we learn from another column today, reporting on the Harper/Bush alone time...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Fight jelly bean standardization

Our blessedly civil PM on full display to the world today:
The Prime Minister recounted the tale of one candy maker who told the leaders he had to keep two separate inventories of jelly beans because the rules governing their content are different in Canada and the United States.

“Is the sovereignty of Canada going to fall apart if we standardize the jelly bean?” asked Mr. Harper. “I don't think so.”
Now that's a f*%#ing good question. I'd never quite thought of our sovereignty in such terms.

And I think the protesters would say...um, yes, the sovereignty of Canada is going to fall apart if we standardize the jelly bean, Mini Bush. You see, you've most brilliantly figured out the basis of the opposition to the Montebello summit. Jelly bean standardization is why all the protesters were there, as you quite cleverly have uncovered. They were concerned about the standardization of the jelly bean and the implications such standardization would have for Canada. For example, would our delicate palates be able to withstand the spicy Mexican jelly beans? Would the standards be debated in our halls of power? Would roads be built to transport the jelly beans? Yes, you put your finger right on it. It was all about the jelly beans.

But now that you've reassured us, as you put jelly bean standardization in such properly proportioned perspective in terms of a question of our sovereignty, we surely have nothing to worry about. The foreign standards on jelly beans pose no dangers to the Canadian jelly bean eating public.

Boy oh boy, I bet those protesters feel silly now.

In Rove's wake

The fallout from Karl Rove's politicization of the arms of government continues to be uncovered. Two interesting points today.

First, there's a lawsuit being launched out of a little drive-by firing that occurred back in September 2005. A former attorney in the Texas secretary of state's office has launched a lawsuit and it could mean that Karl Rove will have to testify:
An attorney fired from the Texas secretary of state's office for talking publicly about presidential adviser Karl Rove has filed a lawsuit, saying she is the victim of political pressure.

Elizabeth Reyes was dismissed in September 2005 after Mr. Rove called Secretary of State Roger Williams about her quotes in a newspaper story.

In the suit filed in state district court, Ms. Reyes says she was fired "because of the political embarrassment and pressure" after she answered a reporter's questions about Mr. Rove's voting eligibility in Texas.
Given Rove's suspected role in the U.S. attorney firings, his name coming up in connection with the indictment and pursuit of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and his much discussed use of government departments to assist in Republican election fortunes, the firing of an attorney in Texas who happened to comment on Rove's voter eligibility in Texas in a national newspaper doesn't seem quite a stretch anymore, does it? A firing for politically motivated reasons seems entirely possible. My only question...what took them so long?

Secondly, Arianna Huffington puts her finger on the Bush selected "mine safety" czar who also seems to have been chosen, unsurprisingly, in accordance with Bush and Rove's politics-above-all-else philosophy of government:
Coal mining interests have donated more than $12 million to federal candidates since the Bush-era began with the 2000 election cycle, with 88% of that money -- $10.6 million -- going to Republicans.

And what did that largess buy the coal mining industry? Mine safety regulators far more interested in looking out for the financial well-being of mine owners than for the physical well-being of miners.

Exhibit A is Bush's "mine safety" czar, Richard Stickler, whose agency both approved the controversial mining technique used at the Crandall Canyon Mine before the collapse, and oversaw the rescue operation.

Stickler is a former coal company manager with such a lousy safety record at the companies he'd run that his nomination as head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration was twice rejected by Senators from both parties, forcing Bush to sneak him in the back door with a recess appointment.

In other words, the guy the White House tapped to protect miners is precisely the kind of executive the head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration is supposed to protect miners from. And now Stickler is the one who will lead the "investigation" into what happened in Utah -- unless there is enough public outcry to force a truly independent investigation.
Stickler, you're doing a heckuva job there...:)

Monday, August 20, 2007

It's about time

McGuinty's weighing in more substantially now on promising to upload some costs from the cities back to the province. Righting the ship, to an extent - as his promise only covers two programmes - back to pre-Mike Harris days. Toronto's budget woes are undoubtedly propelling this issue onto the front burner in the campaign, just as City Council hoped it would when it held off on passing Miller's tax increases. Good. McGuinty's announcement, however, comes in conjunction with polls indicating he's in minority territory. Has a tinge of desperation to it. That is, what took him so long?

The NDP, by contrast, are more fully committed to uploading the social services back to the province while John Tory is being suspiciously non-committal. Tory's expressing regret over Harris' decision but not committing to fixing the mess until after a municipal-provincial report is complete. That's a losing position, John John. The others are setting out their stances, what's your deal? Makes people wonder.

The leaders are speaking next week at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference in Ottawa. The issue's only going to grow in prominence in this campaign...it'll be a big factor in many voters eyes, watch and see.

Mini Bush in Bush's embrace - now that's "sad"

REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Literally and metaphorically, today. Well done, W. That's just the kind of picture we like to see. Bet the PMO loves this one!

And what does our PM have to say about protesters exercising their democratic rights to freedom of association and freedom of speech by protesting at this meeting?
Asked about the protests against the summit, Mr. Harper told reporters as he greeted Mr. Bush, "I heard it's nothing," then added. "It's sad."
"It's sad?" Another one of those careless throwaway comments that provides us with great insight into the mind of Steve Harper. I'd say there's a bit of contempt in these words toward the protesters, condescending actually. That's our PM's view of such a protest. Completely oblivious to the feelings of the majority of Canadians toward one of the most reviled world leaders in attendance on our soil. Protesting his presence is not "sad." It's exactly the right thing to do, to show Bush that he's not going to get passive ambivalence from us. He's going to get exactly what he deserves. A show of opposition.

That's not sad at all.

A fine preview of the welcome to Canada W can expect

Courtesy of about 3000 of our fellow citizens out on a stroll on a Sunday well-spent in our nation's capital:

(AP PHOTO/CP,Jonathan Hayward)

"A" for effort, my friends...:)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Still delusional

The Rovepot calling the kettle black:
“The dividers, over the last six years,” he said, “have been the Democrats, who have routinely said he was not elected, he’s illegitimate, he’s a liar, he deliberately misled the country.”
Serving notice that he's not going gently into that good night, Rove is on the job, on a mission to destroy Democrats' electoral chances in 2008 by painting his own version of the truth and having it run in the willing media. He's "vacationing" in a hotel in Waco, 20 miles from the President's ranch.

Friday, August 17, 2007

U.S. says forget it on Khadr

Of course they did. Now the question is what will Harper say, if anything, to Bush about Gitmo and Khadr, an issue that is ripening in Canada:
The White House signalled yesterday it is adamant that Canadian terror suspect Omar Khadr face justice at Guantanamo Bay, where he remains the only Westerner being held at the U.S. military prison in Cuba.

By reiterating that the military court process will play out in the case of the 20-year-old Toronto man, the Bush administration was launching a pre-emptive strike in advance of next week's meeting of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderón in Quebec.

"We ultimately want to have all of the cases at Guantanamo Bay adjudicated and people dealt with in a just and fair manner," said White House spokesperson Gordon Johndroe.

Harper now stands virtually alone among U.S. allies in not condemning or even criticizing the Guantanamo prison camp, which even the administration here concedes has become a stain on America's reputation worldwide.
Let me guess...at the upcoming summit they'll be coming up with some benign platitude that suggests Harper has raised the issue and Bush will consider it...and then nothing will happen. Like it or not, Harper's going to get pressure on this for the foreseeable future until he breaks his silence.

The U.S. does torture

If you have not done so yet, I would recommend taking a look at Jane Mayer's article in the August 13th issue of the New Yorker, "The Black Sites." It's an account which fills in the information void as to what exactly has occurred at the secret CIA prisons that were in operation post 9/11 in Afghanistan and Poland, to name two sites. Mayer interviewed a host of sources from which she was able to piece together what can only be termed a horrifying report of torture and inhumanity. I found the cumulative effect of the article to be among the more disturbing things I've read in a long time. Here's an excerpt:
As the C.I.A. captured and interrogated other Al Qaeda figures, it established a protocol of psychological coercion. The program tied together many strands of the agency’s secret history of Cold War-era experiments in behavioral science. (In June, the C.I.A. declassified long-held secret documents known as the Family Jewels, which shed light on C.I.A. drug experiments on rats and monkeys, and on the infamous case of Frank R. Olson, an agency employee who leaped to his death from a hotel window in 1953, nine days after he was unwittingly drugged with LSD.) The C.I.A.’s most useful research focussed on the surprisingly powerful effects of psychological manipulations, such as extreme sensory deprivation. According to Alfred McCoy, a history professor at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison, who has written a history of the C.I.A.’s experiments in coercing subjects, the agency learned that “if subjects are confined without light, odors, sound, or any fixed references of time and place, very deep breakdowns can be provoked.”
Agency scientists found that in just a few hours some subjects suspended in water tanks—or confined in isolated rooms wearing blacked-out goggles and earmuffs—regressed to semi-psychotic states. Moreover, McCoy said, detainees become so desperate for human interaction that “they bond with the interrogator like a father, or like a drowning man having a lifesaver thrown at him. If you deprive people of all their senses, they’ll turn to you like their daddy.” McCoy added that “after the Cold War we put away those tools. There was bipartisan reform. We backed away from those dark days. Then, under the pressure of the war on terror, they didn’t just bring back the old psychological techniques—they perfected them.”
The C.I.A.’s interrogation program is remarkable for its mechanistic aura. “It’s one of the most sophisticated, refined programs of torture ever,” an outside expert familiar with the protocol said. “At every stage, there was a rigid attention to detail. Procedure was adhered to almost to the letter. There was top-down quality control, and such a set routine that you get to the point where you know what each detainee is going to say, because you’ve heard it before. It was almost automated. People were utterly dehumanized. People fell apart. It was the intentional and systematic infliction of great suffering masquerading as a legal process. It is just chilling.”
I don't think it's possible to read this article and look at the Bush administration in the same way again. It's a whole new depth of insight provided here. They're shown to have gone way beyond their incompetent, arrogant, lawless, bumbling and machiavellian ways. They're not just breaking laws for their own political interests, they're doing it as immoral torturers who have corrupted their nation's values and descended to the same level as the people they're pursuing. And they have the nerve to repeatedly, publicly and simplistically proclaim, "we don't torture." Read this New Yorker article and then find yourself recalling those unreal public pronouncements.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Spawn of Bush to marry political spawn of Rove

A match made in Republican heaven:
Jenna Bush, 25, is marrying Henry Hager, 28, a former White House aide who used to work with Karl Rove.
This seems about right...:)

Our socially awkward PM

Didn't your mama teach you any manners, Mr. Harper?

Sheesh. Always the low road...

Tribute to the King



This is Trent Carlini, an Elvis impersonator I saw in early July in Las Vegas...it gives you a sense of what the show's like. If you never saw Elvis (most of us are too young), this guy is the next best thing. He's uncanny. Check out the women who rush the stage, it was funny to see a whole crowd who did it at the show we were at. If you're a fan and in Vegas, check him out.

Best to all the Elvis fans out there today!

Birdbrains

A prominent Conservative chief of staff gets the shaft...and it's the "talk of the town." Seems Maxime Bernier's well-regarded chief of staff was told to take her moxy and go over to Revenue to work for O'Connor. So she quit, refusing to take what's viewed as a demotion. Good for her.

You go Conservative insiders, well done there with peeving off Sandra Buckler who had to step in to quell the fuss...:)

Go away Karl

Find yourself a nice big rock and crawl under it. He's on the attack against Hillary and why anyone cares what this monumentally wrong individual thinks is beyond me. Did anyone listen to what Rove said about W the other day? He's off his freakin' rocker. He thinks W is Lincolnesque. So excuse me but I think his attacks on Hillary should be kept in proper perspective. Besides, he's probably, like a lot of Republicans, scared to death of her. She's the most formidable candidate out there right now.

Rove, is soooooo over.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Pauline Marois weighs in on the Inuit deal

Not quite what I was expecting, but it's right up there:
Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois says a deal to create self-government for the province's 10,000 Inuit would help smooth relations with the indigenous group in an independent Quebec.

Ottawa, Quebec and the Inuit have reached an agreement in principle that would create the Regional Government of Nunavik in a vast territory that makes up a third of the province – an area larger than France.

Ms. Marois backs the deal because it would give the Inuit more powers and greater control over their land, she said in an interview after announcing she will seek election to the National Assembly in a riding in Quebec's Charlevoix region.

“It would allow us to better work together” in an independent Quebec, she added. “ … They'll be reassured because they'll have the tools to develop within the context of a Québécois state, and we'll recognize those rights; it will be healthier.”
Hmmmm....

Olbermann with a little perspective on you know who



An interview with James Moore, author of Bush's Brain, on the departure of Turdblossom...with a few historical anecdotes on Rove to begin...

I also enjoyed David Corn's take on Rove's departure, "Karl Rove Should Stay." His view is that Rove just ambling off into the sunset away from the disaster should not be permitted. It's too easy and good for him. You see, that's "cutting and running" that Rove so famously railed against Democrats for. Here's a wonderful extended excerpt:
In June 2006, Rove gave a speech to New Hampshire Republicans and blasted Democrats for advocating "cutting and running" in Iraq. He said of the Democrats, "They may be with you for the first shots. But they're not going...to be with you for the tough battles." But isn't Rove now doing the same on a personal scale? He is departing the White House when the going in Iraq is as tough as it ever was.

In an earlier 2006 speech, Rove exclaimed, "America is at war....To retreat before victory has been won would be a reckless act." He was, of course, talking about a military retreat. But look at it this way: Rove helped Bush start a war, and now hundreds of thousands of American GIs (and millions of Iraqi civilians) have no choice but to live with the consequences of that decision. Why should Rove--and not they--be allowed to say, Sorry, now I have to bug out to spend more time with my family? How nice for the Roves that he can walk away from the war.

When Bush campaigned for president in 2000, he and Rove dubbed their campaign plane Accountability One. The point: we're the responsible ones. But a fundamental principle of accountability is that you clean up the messes you create. Rove is not doing that. He will cash in. Maybe with speeches. Perhaps with a book or some private sector spot. Instead, he ought to volunteer for service with one of the few functioning provincial reconstruction teams in Iraq. Or perhaps he could conduct seminars on basic electoral skills for tribal leaders in southeastern Afghanistan. (Lesson No. 2: How To Demonize Your Enemy.) If overseas travel would place too much of a burden on his family, he could help clean up a neighborhood in New Orleans.

In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote of Tom and Daisy, "They were careless people...they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back to their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made." Rove is certainly more careful than Fitzgerald's characters--careful when it comes to politics and doing whatever is necessary to win. But with Bush, he recklessly steered this country into a debacle in Iraq that has caused the death of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians and that has ruined the United States' reputation abroad. Bush, Rove, Dick Cheney and the rest did so with little understanding and with insufficient planning, and they sold the war to the public with bad information and blatant misrepresentations. (Rove was part of the White House Iraq Group that devised the prewar messaging.) Rove deserves not reward but punishment. A fitting sentence would be for Rove to stay to the bitter end so he can sweep up the turds he is now leaving behind.
And one other thing about the Rove announcement yesterday...was it just me or was there something both sad and twisted about the staging effort made yesterday to provide an overdone scenic backdrop for Rove's farewell with the marine helicopter and the Washington Monument in the background as if this was some heroic individual worthy of such an effort. The players standing on the grass appeared to be small, very small self-indulgent men.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Senator Leahy on Rove's departure

A fitting sendoff from the Senator:
“Earlier this month, Karl Rove failed to comply with the Judiciary Committee's subpoena to testify about the mass firings of United States Attorneys. Despite evidence that he played a central role in these firings, just as he did in the Libby case involving the outing of an undercover CIA agent and improper political briefings at over 20 government agencies, Mr. Rove acted as if he was above the law. That is wrong. Now that he is leaving the White House while under subpoena, I continue to ask what Mr. Rove and others at the White House are so desperate to hide. Mr. Rove’s apparent attempts to manipulate elections and push out prosecutors citing bogus claims of voter fraud shows corruption of federal law enforcement for partisan political purposes, and the Senate Judiciary Committee will continue its investigation into this serious issue.

“The list of senior White House and Justice Department officials who have resigned during the course of these congressional investigations continues to grow, and today, Mr. Rove added his name to that list. There is a cloud over this White House, and a gathering storm. A similar cloud envelops Mr. Rove, even as he leaves the White House.”
I think it's over when Leahy says it's over...:)

Strangely quiet

Yet to see any reaction out of Quebec on this story...very strange. The Quebec media appear not to have been made aware of the story with news going solely to the Globe. Interesting.

Rove is leaving the building

Talk about an earth shaking kind of day...the evil genius is scurrying out the door by the end of the month...could it have anything to do with his radioactivity on the firings of the U.S. attorneys? Hmmmm?

Rove's parting words, from the WSJ:
"I just think it's time," he says, adding that he first floated the idea of leaving to Mr. Bush a year ago. His friends confirm he had been talking about it with others even earlier. But Democrats took Congress, and he didn't want to depart on that sour note. He then thought he'd leave after the State of the Union, but the Iraq and immigration fights beckoned. Finally, Chief of Staff Josh Bolten told senior White House aides that if they stayed past a certain point, they were obliged to remain to Jan. 20, 2009.

"There's always something that can keep you here, and as much as I'd like to be here, I've got to do this for the sake of my family," Mr. Rove says. His son attends college in San Antonio, and he and his wife, Darby, plan to spend much of their time at their home in nearby Ingram, in the Texas Hill Country.

Mr. Rove doesn't say, though others do, that this timing also allows him to leave on his own terms. He has survived a probe by a remorseless special counsel, and lately a subpoena barrage from Democrats for whom he is the great white whale. He shows notable forbearance in declining to comment on prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who dragged him through five grand jury appearances. He won't even disclose his legal bills, except to quip that "every one has been paid" and that "it was worth every penny."

What about those who say he's leaving to avoid Congressional scrutiny? "I know they'll say that," he says, "But I'm not going to stay or leave based on whether it pleases the mob." He also knows he'll continue to be a target, even from afar, since belief in his influence over every Administration decision has become, well, faith-based.

"I'm a myth. There's the Mark of Rove," he says, with a bemused air. "I read about some of the things I'm supposed to have done, and I have to try not to laugh." He says the real target is Mr. Bush, whom many Democrats have never accepted as a legitimate president and "never will."
Bonus good news in addition to the very fact of this news...Rove says he's finished with political consulting.

So this is how it ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Good riddance to him...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

"We have suspended the Fourth Amendment for the time being..."

A remarkable statement, n'est ce pas? Such realizations are lighting fires under the behinds of lawyers all across North America these days...

And the military obsession continues...

I see the military is all agog and gushing over the delivery of the latest military toys, namely the giant C-17 cargo planes that will be used in Afghanistan.
The pilot who will lead the C-17 crews said the arrival of the new plane is a big step for the Canadian Forces.

"This is an absolute paradigm shift for us. We've never had this capability before," said Maj. Jeremy Reynolds.
Yes, a paradigm shift where Canadian resources are used to increasingly militarize our country. Watch the beast fly at an air show in B.C. yesterday, here.
At a cost of roughly $900 million, the 53-metre-long planes are capable of carrying 78,000 kilograms and can airdrop 102 paratroopers and their equipment.
Reminder, Toronto's budget shortfall is in the range of $587 million. Compare:
The deal was part of a larger $13-billion announcement by the Conservatives to add dozens of aircraft to the military, including medium-lift C-130Js, known as Hercules, and CH-47 Chinook battlefield transport helicopters.
But at least we have shiny new giant cargo airplanes...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Woodpecker



Nature in the city...a woodpecker comes to visit the Impolitical homestead...:) Taken while out yesterday working on the property. Bloggers do go outside sometimes you know (albeit with their digital camera in tow)...:)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Blockheads

Let the girl go fishing, this is ridiculous. This Richard Dauphinee sounds like a truly enlightened civil servant. Now he's made this 9 year old girl feel like she's an oddball or something.

YOU GO GIRL! That's my message to her...:)

Inappropriate

Apparently this is a big occasion. Judge Gomery's retiring and that seems to call for a parting round of thoughts on accountability and how well the Conservatives are doing in "cleaning up Ottawa." Let's see what the judge has to say about the subject on the occasion of his retirement:
Speaking on his 75th birthday and official retirement date, Mr. Gomery praised the Conservative government's showpiece Accountability Act, which included reforms to electoral laws and lobbying rules. But the former head of the inquiry into the sponsorship scandal warned that the job is far from over.

I thought [the Accountability Act] was a marvellous case of good intentions. As to whether or not those good intentions are going to be translated into government action is something that I think will take a little time,” Mr. Gomery said in an interview.

To make his point, Mr. Gomery highlighted two key – yet unfulfilled – Conservative promises: creating a Public Appointments Commission and making the registrar of lobbyists into an independent officer of Parliament.
Yes, there are the token notations of things that need to be done but nevertheless he seems to be rooting for the Harper team, egging them on, lest the baddies in Ottawa, code speak for Liberals, no doubt, spoil the tremendous work Steve and his crew have done to date.
Mr. Gomery said there is a strong level of support for the status quo in Ottawa, and that the Conservative government can't afford to slow down.

“Once a government is comfortably established, it becomes part of the inertia. Once people are in office, they develop a way or a habit of doing things, and I think there is a heavy pressure on politicians from the public service to conform to past practices,” Mr. Gomery said.
Yes, let's just all wave a magic wand, close our eyes real tight and hope that the shining instances of accountability that are the hallmark of the Harper government just continue, right? Hopefully, as Justice Gomery suggests, the Conservative government won't slow down and we can expect more exemplary behaviour like the following:
I think you get the point, right? The point is that Judge Gomery's a might off in his expressions of goodwill for Conservative accountability today. Accountability is not just about the technicalities of the law you pass for show. It's about your substantive behaviour as well, especially when politicians so sanctimoniously ride into office on the concept. (Not to mention this government's failure to provide the accountability that they owe the Canadian people as they "answer" questions in the House of Commons in their daily performances in Question Period and hold the media off at unprecedented arms lengths.)

And there's this:
Mr. Gomery was more hesitant to comment on the case of Liberal bagman Jacques Corriveau, who also cited faulty memory in his testimony before the inquiry. Mr. Corriveau's home was the site of an RCMP search this summer.
I should hope so. It would be highly inappropriate for a judge to be commenting on such a situation where the RCMP is in the midst of conducting an investigation.

Perhaps the Judge might have been better off to deploy such restraint with the remainder of his farewell musings.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Wonder if Pierre will make the cabinet?

Do we have a budding Intergovernmental Affairs Minister on our hands? Seeing as how Conservative wonder boy Pierre Poilievre is harassing the Ontario government and all over a non-issue in Ontario, looks like he's vying for the job. Or just looking for attention as Harper makes his final cuts.

Could be a fantastic choice for Harper to consider...I would absolutely, without hesitation, recommend this one.

Yawn

More chatter about the upcoming cabinet shuffle today: "PM faces tough choices replacing female ministers." Wake me up when it finally happens.

The relatively slow pace of news in Canada seems to have a lot of eyes focussed on this shuffle. Today's report has the number of women Harper may include under the microscope. Well, he frankly doesn't have much to work with. It's a glaring deficit on the Conservative side. And the preeminence of the wonder boys thus far has so dominated the Conservative party's public face, it'd be hard to satisfy any expectations that the Harper cabinet is suddenly to be equalized in the gender department.

It's a sad state of affairs, yes indeed.

What's wrong with America?

A "moment of truth" that came through in the question of last night's debate, found at the beginning of this clip, from Hardball yesterday:



Quite the moment to bring attention to the plight of workers losing pensions and health care in today's corporate free for all.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Always the follower

Do I really need to say anything? Here:
The Harper government has quietly provided a high-level boost to Taiwan's campaign for a role in the World Health Organization in a move that some experts say will place another burr under its relationship with China.

In May, Health Minister Tony Clement spoke in favour of allowing Taiwan to take part in meaningful technical meetings of the WHO, of which it is not a member. China opposes such membership, as well as giving Taiwan observer status at the World Health Authority, which is the WHO's supreme decision-making body.

While the Canadian move is less than the full support for the WHO membership Taiwan seeks, Taiwanese officials say the remarks are significant because they come from a cabinet minister.

Canada has joined Japan and the United States as chief sympathizers for Taiwan's increased participation in the WHO, although the latter two countries support full membership. "This is definitely a very positive sign," said David Ta-Wei Lee, Taiwan's representative to Canada.
Once more with gusto...we call him Mini Bush for good reason here at the Impolitical blog...:)

Late live-blogging of the re-run Democratic AFL-CIO debate

Semi-live blogging, that is. Just a few thoughts on the event this evening.

There is a dynamic developing here where Hillary is the presidential presumptive nominee and the rest are running for Veep. They're trying, but it's just a palpable perception coming off the screen. Chris Dodd is looking good among the current bunch for the Veep slot right now, he's taken on O'Reilly in a high profile confrontation lately that's stood him well and really sounding solid. My hunch to date has been that Wes Clark's the front runner for that role, for his intelligence and military background and he's likely still a good bet. He's from Arkansas as well, likely a long time Clintonite.

Barack Obama's "President of Canada" phrasing...gaffe or just telling it like it is? (We call him Mini Bush for good reason here at the Impolitical blog, don't ya know...:))

That elderly man who stood and told of losing his job, his pension and not being able to afford health care for his wife now after a life time of working had to be the most heartfelt moment of any of these debates I've witnessed thus far...

Can anyone imagine the Republicans standing up in front of a similarly raucous AFL-CIO crowd? Would love to see that show.

Joe Biden continues to entertain here and there, again with his one word answer at the end in the "lightning" round with 20 seconds to spare...:) It works for him, great joke. He's one of the Impolitical husband's faves.

Barack Obama's halting answers at times belie his inexperience and fumbling for answers. I feel uncomfortable watching it at times. It came through in his response on NAFTA, less on the "big ticket" items like Iraq. He also appears diminished when getting into the nitty gritty with his peers on stage. When he's fighting Dodd and Biden, I don't find it a favourable comparator for him. The commentators following the debate who declared Obama the winner? I do not get it at all. I do get the dynamism, the appeal, the newness...but he doesn't appear to be ready.

Hillary's a star and these guys can't touch her.

And finally, Keith Olbermann continues to shine. What a professional, literate, efficient broadcaster. Big fan, as usual. Well, done KO!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Cities getting the shaft



The Mayor of Minneapolis speaks out on the bridge collapse in his city, stating that Americans should be outraged that this happened in a major American city. Sing it, Mr. Mayor. Listen for this at approx. the 5:45 mark. Evidences the frustration of being the mayor of a major city who has been banging the drum on infrastructure concerns.

And a propos of that concern...there's an article in the Star today, "City running on almost-empty," about Toronto's current budget situation, the effects of downloading on to the city and setting out some of the choices that need to be made - service cuts or increases in property taxes. The article doesn't get into the political views of the provincial parties but it seems clear that more attention needs to be devoted to the needs of cities in Canada and that this needs to be a major issue in the coming Ontario election campaign. It's inexcusable that both the province and the federal government are in budgetary surplus positions yet Toronto is facing budgetary shortfalls. Citizens in Toronto should be outraged as well.

Sources dishing on Mini Bush's plans once again

My oh my, that vaunted majority government is a bugger to pin down without Quebec, isn't it? Today we see another reminder of the Conservative electoral strategy in action. Because Mini Bush is likely on the verge of demonstrating once more just how far his government will go to buy some votes in la belle province. Seems the Conservatives are struggling mightily to ensure Quebec gets a high percentage of the "regional benefits" about to be doled out under a massive Boeing contract - despite their protestations that they are doing nothing of the sort:
The Harper government is delaying the announcement of regional benefits flowing from the $3.4-billion purchase of C17 cargo planes because of concerns over the lack of contracts going to Quebec, government and industry sources said.

“Boeing would be ready to go with a series of supplier announcements,” a source said, adding the announcements are delayed because all of the planned contracts in Quebec “are not in place yet.”
...
The situation has been creating headaches for the Harper government because of an intense lobbying campaign in Quebec. The province houses more than half of the country's aerospace industry, and expects a similar share of the regional benefits from the purchase of the C17s and other coming pieces of military hardware.

Boeing, however, has pre-existing relationships with a number of companies outside of Quebec and, for business reasons, does not want to send massive contracts to some of its big competitors in Quebec.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper put his foot down earlier this year and stated that Boeing can decide where to send its benefits.

“This government and our ministers have no intention of interfering in the regional distribution of the contracts,” Mr. Harper told reporters in January. “It depends on the company that has the contract and its relations with other industry players.”

Sources say that despite Mr. Harper's statement, the Quebec issue continues to hound the announcement of the regional benefits. Before the government officially announces the regional distribution of the benefits, sources said that Boeing has been pushed to finalize more contracts in Quebec to increase the province's share.
Oh you delightful "sources," how I do love your moxie.

Now call me crazy...but it kinda sounds like Steve is sayin' one thing and doing another. That's the kind of thing that's characterized his "administration" thus far. Ask Danny Williams and the income trust investors for starters.

Looks like Deceivin' Steven is showing his colours once again...:)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Um, are you kidding me?

Take a look at this. Seems to me with the high profile event occurring in Minnesota this past week we've got better things to be doing about the Gardiner...

An overlooked point this week

Former White House counsel in the Clinton administration, Beth Nolan, was cited by Dan Froomkin the other day for a statement she made recently on the limits on executive privilege. Hardly surprising, but she suggests that executive privilege is not as absolute in its reach as the Bush administration is portraying it:
Nolan explained: "We have little case law illuminating the contours of executive privilege, but what we do have makes one thing absolutely clear: the President's constitutional authority to assert executive privilege is not absolute, but is instead to be balanced against the legitimate needs of the coordinate branches of government in undertaking their constitutionally assigned responsibilities. The seminal Supreme Court case on executive privilege is, of course, United States v. Nixon, [a 1974 decision] in which the Court held that a privilege is a qualified one that may be outweighed by countervailing needs."
Something to keep in mind as this ongoing battle continues.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Reason to love the Conservatives

Now there's a headline you never thought you'd see from me! Why do I love them? Principally because they have demonstrated, repeatedly, that their party is run by people with political tin ears. People who fail to see what the right thing to do is in circumstances staring them in the face, time and again. When given a choice between two competing alternatives, the Conservative choice is to opt for the small-minded, partisan route.

Today's instance? Harper failing to see that standing side by side with Danny Williams in the aftermath of the Newfoundland flooding was a no-brainer. There's no way Williams would have criticized Harper had they been together in that situation. It was a chance to take the high road and take steps toward mending fences. It was a sure thing politically in terms of presenting a united, positive front and also the right thing to do for Newfoundlanders. But they missed it. And so the PM walked around, during the photo op, looking uncomfortable and awkwardly snubbing the media.

Same thing in the spring on the Afghan detainee file. The right thing to do was to stand up in the House of Commons and say, Canada supports the Geneva Conventions, Canada does not condone torture and we will do everything in our power to see that it does not happen. These guys? Their gut told them to portray the opposition as unpatriotic Taliban lovers. The Prime Minister was practically still doing it the other night.

So keep doing what you're doing, brainiac Conservative strategists, there are a few of us out here who support you in your misguided efforts, for reasons you will never comprehend...:)

Not ban worthy

Yet, that is...:)

Seems someone in Stock's office is interested in their man's cabinet shuffle prospects. It seems therefore, that I am not among the banned and remain free to spread my anti-Harper blogging among the civil servantry. I shall do my best.

Celebrate the power of the net roots

A big shout out today to the U.S. progressive bloggers meeting at their second annual Daily Kos convention in Chicago this week. They're getting lots of attention too.

Good for them!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Ouch

The site of the 2008 Republican National Convention is...Minneapolis-St. Paul.

A notable comment in the NY Times this afternoon by a metallurgist:
A Metallurgist’s Insights Into the Minneapolis Bridge Disaster

Joel S. Hirschhorn

The incredible collapse of the Minneapolis bridge will send a message to the nation that has been repeatedly sent for decades, but that our political system has refused to effectively respond to. America’s physical, engineered infrastructure has been in desperate need for massive spending to repair and replace, but the multi-trillion-dollar cost has been rejected by local, state and federal politicians.

We have had bipartisan government neglect. The bridge fell down because our politicians have let us down.
Worth a look.

Mini Bush goes a barbecuin'

And it ain't pretty...:)

This vile little barbecue speech offered up by Harper last night is exactly the kind of thing that has them languishing in the polls, unable to motivate the country to support them for a majority government:
Harper accused his Liberal opponents of blocking the Conservative agenda in Parliament, and of having skewed priorities for the country.

He said the allegations of abuse made by Taliban prisoners handed over by Canadians to Afghan authorities "are their priority for our country." Harper contrasted that with "the Conservative priority" of boosting the military's budget and being "not ashamed of our proud military heritage."
If standing up for the Geneva Conventions and the rule of law are "their priority for our country," I'm with "them" all the way...:)

Contrast that with a skyrocketing military budget and a straw man argument suggesting that Canadians and/or the opposition are "ashamed of our proud military heritage" and Mini Bush is shooting himself in the foot once again...playing the divider with his "us versus them" shtick and once again suggesting that Liberals are unpatriotic. I mean, it's the spring parliamentary session all over again...

By the way, is this really the kind of thing people want to hear at a barbecue? Just sayin...:)

A Deep Throat for our times?

We can only hope. Fascinating diaries at kos tracking the anonymous postings of an individual at TPMmuckraker of late...someone who is either a liar with a fantastic imagination and knack for detail, or someone on the inside of this administration who knows the extent of the lawbreaking that has occurred and is trying to steer the media, Congress, state AG's, and even state bar associations to focus on what this anonymous poster believes is rampant illegality being carried out by the highest levels of the Bush administration. The posts have to do with, broadly speaking, the NSA warrantless wiretapping program the Bush administration has engaged in and its possible extent to much broader activities, including National Security Council-run domestic spying in the grand tradition of the Iran Contra mode of under the table hush-hush illegal operations. The allegations are sweeping, detailed and mind-blowing.

It's fascinating and, if it's true, the next few years would be spent investigating it all.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Dual citizenship an asset not a liability

The intolerant, narrow parochialism on citizenship issues we have heard from some Conservative figures in Canada needs to be put to rest:
The notion that Canadians who hold more than one nationality lack loyalty to Canada amounts to "unfounded hyperbole," says an internal government document that casts doubt on recent calls to revamp multiple citizenship rules.

Some critics questioned the wisdom of permitting dual nationality after Ottawa spent tens of millions of dollars to help about 15,000 Lebanese-Canadians flee war-ravaged Lebanon in July last year.

The internal paper says the public discussion has been framed "in terms that pre-judge the value of Canada's multiple citizenship policy" and which characterize Canadians living abroad, as well as those who have returned, "as a liability to Canada."

"Many of these claims are not based on evidence and are difficult to measure."
Interesting...and I'm sure it will inform future discussions of politicians who hold such dual citizenship, right?

Buckler weighs in, kind of

We've done it before, so it's OK. Oh, well then...
Sandra Buckler, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's director of communications, said the Conservatives -- who campaigned on a platform of government accountability to the public -- were merely following their own past practice.

"It's quite normal for there to be private areas and then areas where the media are,'' she said by e-mail.

She suggested reviewing the experiences of reporters at last year's Tory summer caucus in Cornwall, Ont.

"They will tell you there is nothing new here. We provided MPs for commentary, and we are following that same routine this year.''

She didn't comment on the appropriateness of using the RCMP to keep reporters away.
What say you on that latter point, Ms. Buckler?

PMO using RCMP for political purposes?

Again, what kind of country do we want to live in? The Conservatives appear to have a very strange view of our democracy:
RCMP officers, acting on orders from the Prime Minister's Office, evicted journalists from a hotel lobby Wednesday to prevent them from approaching Conservative MPs to discuss the country's governance.

While tour bus groups freely wandered the lobby of Charlottetown's Delta Hotel, plainclothes Mounties rebuffed reporters who had convened for the Conservative party's three-day summer strategy session.

"There's a time and a place for the media," a Mountie told a small knot of print reporters, making it clear the issue was not a matter of security but of communications strategy.

The unnamed officer said he was acting on orders from the Prime Minister's Office.

The reporters were nowhere near the actual caucus meetings, which took place behind a set of closed doors and somewhere down a long hallway in one of the hotel ballrooms. But that was too close for the Conservatives, who set up a media room in a federal building across the street and promised to bring MPs for interviews "where appropriate."
And once again, we must ask ourselves, can't these guys do anything right?