Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year, blah blah blah

To quote the Gorillaz of late...:) And various other assorted platitudes to you this last night of 2007...thought I'd jot down a few thoughts on a quiet evening here in the Impolitical household.

Here's a song I've had going through my head and on my speakers for weeks now that makes me happy. Don't know why, just like it. Although I don't quite get the video. See if you do.

Otherwise, as the year ends and we look forward to 2008, the most prominent cause for hope for the world is the fact that the PRESIDENCY OF GEORGE W. BUSH WILL END IN 2008. Yet unfortunately, we must watch this imbecile for yet another 11 months or so. The good news is that he's set the bar so eminently low, anyone, dare I say, will be an improvement. Of course, this corner is rooting for a Democrat to take back the White House, any of the top three will do me just fine. Edwards is a sentimental favourite right now though, have to say, although ultimately, not sure he can pull it off.

We will also look to a likely Canadian election. And there's hope that Harpie too may be banished to opposition. He's not grown in the polls, as I've been bleating on about for likely most of this year. Let's hope it stays that way and Canadians, aided by a little discussion in the blogging community, see the misguided out of sync Conservatives for what they are.

Other than that, cheers and have a great night...:)

Harpie sounds nervous

This might actually turn out to be a very useful photo op. You know, of the "Mission Accomplished" variety. After all, we all know who's responsible for the GST cuts. He's got a 5% practically tattooed to his forehead just about now. And yet to mark what should be a brilliantly happy occasion, if they're so convinced they're doing the right thing, Harpie and Flaherty are somehow spinning like crazy, trying to lower expectations for economic performance this year.
"We know there is considerable uncertainty in the world economy, in the American economy, and we've seen very strong performance from our economy so far," he said Monday.

"So obviously, our wish for the year is we're able to sustain that momentum and shelter as best we can Canadians from any fallout of global economic problems."

Harper's comments marked another year-end warning from the Conservative government that the Canadian economy is headed for a year of turbulence, due to tighter financial markets and the fallout from a slowing U.S. economy.
Sounds like they're pretty freakin' nervous about the economic cushioning that they just jettisoned. The sensible approach might have been this:
Liberal finance critic John McCallum said the Conservatives should be cutting income taxes instead.

In an interview from San Francisco, McCallum said he thinks this announcement "is a triumph of political gimmickry over good policy because there's not an economist on the planet who would argue in favour of using $12 billion per year of valuable taxpayers' money to cut the GST."
But I guess Harpie's going to have to live with the consequences this year, whatever they may be. As his mentor taught him, "In politics, you take risks." We'll see if this is a beau risque or a blown risk.

Harpie touting his GST cut today while GTA taxes rise

Harpie is going to be in the GTA today revisiting the cheesy photo op that launched the pathetic GST cutting that sees most people getting, well, bupkus of significance in their daily lives. But as a report today tells us, "Mr. Harper's promise to reduce the GST to 5 per cent during the 2006 campaign proved both popular and smart political theatre." Well, let's think about that, Torontonians, shall we? That report goes on to tell us this:
Most Canadians will see only small savings of about $200 on purchases over the coming year. But the savings on big-ticket items like homes, appliances or automobiles will be dramatic: $5,000 on a $500,000 home, for instance.
$5,000 on a $500,000 home you say? Well not if you live in the GTA, ironically one of Harper's choice locations for such photo ops. The land transfer tax Toronto council had to enact to make up for a $500 million budget shortfall kicks in soon, vitiating any benefit from a GST cut:
As if the incoming flurry of holiday bills wasn't enough, Torontonians should brace themselves for a slew of extra charges over the next few months as the new taxes and fees adopted in 2007 kick in.

Buying a home and owning a car will cost more starting Feb. 1, when the new land transfer and motor vehicle registration taxes take effect.
Under the new land transfer tax approved by city council this fall, prospective homebuyers have until tonight to sign a purchase agreement or until Feb. 1 to close the deal to avoid paying up to 2 per cent in taxes.

Some realtors predict the market will slow down as a result of the levy, which will add thousands of dollars to the cost of most houses.

For example, it will cost the buyer of a $375,000 home an extra $4,100.
So you see, when Harper and Flaherty and the gang start talking up the great GST savings homebuyers are going to get...that won't apply to the GTA. Maybe someone should ask him, once again, while he's out there in Mississauga at his little photo op why his government couldn't have instead given 1 cent of the GST to the cities?

Don't let the snow job fool you today.

New video of Bhutto assassination

New video of Bhutto's assassination, taken from behind the car in which Bhutto stood and which provides greater visibility of the events. The report vets the different theories thus far. Worth a look.

Monday, December 24, 2007

A little Christmas eve Conservative hatorade for you

They're slamming the CBC, capitalizing on an incident during the Mulroney-Schreiber hearings. In other words, doing their best imitation of the worst of the Republican efforts to tarnish the media as liberal in order to portray themselves as the victims of a biased media. Poor little helpless Conservatives with their millions to spend on attack ads. We should apparently feel sorry for them and the disadvantages they must overcome. An extended excerpt so you can revel in the dramatic picture portrayed by one of the top Conservative party officials:
The Conservative Party of Canada has slammed the country's public broadcaster in a fundraising letter to party members.

Top party official Doug Finley has sent Conservative grassroots supporters a letter in which he lambastes the CBC and asks people for money to help fight an election.

Finley, the party's campaign director, says he was shocked by allegations that a CBC reporter helped produce questions for a Liberal MP to ask Brian Mulroney at a recent parliamentary hearing.

Now he's using the incident as a fundraising message to the party faithful: Tories face a chronic disadvantage because of their powerful enemies, and need your cash to overcome it.

But while casting the governing party as a perennial underdog, Finley glosses over the fact that the Tories are - by far - the top dog in the money department.

The Tories are loaded with cash after out-fundraising the Liberals by millions of dollars at a four-to-one ratio, and that money has allowed them to staff campaign headquarters and run multiple TV ads.

Finley glosses over those advantages in a letter that focuses on the challenges of being a Conservative.

"Let's face the facts," Finley writes in a letter, released by the party Monday.

"Running as a Conservative in Canada is never easy.

"The Liberals have long benefited from the support of the country's most powerful vested interests. And the NDP has always been backed by the country's loudest vocal interests."

He goes on to ask for $100 or $200, and argues that financial support will help the Tories overcome the challenge of fighting the Liberals and "their vested interest allies."

Memo to CBC, keep reporting the news as you're doing and stand up to such efforts to bully you into re-considering your coverage. Because this little letter is not just about fund-raising. It's also undoubtedly about trying to create a backlash against the CBC and maybe gain Conservatives the benefit of the doubt here and there on a close call with a story. The Republicans have been on a "liberal media" tirade in the U.S. for years and par for the course, the Harper Conservatives are trying to inculcate the same thing in Canada.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Accommodation for Harper is just an electoral calculation

What part of accommodation includes singling out women Muslim voters and legislating that they show their faces while voting - when there is no record of problems occurring? As Harper hits his "Kumbayah" tone on accommodation and immigration today, let's not forget how he whipped up this issue prior to the Quebec by-elections for, frankly, Conservative electoral advantage. And how he publicly misrepresented that the Elections Act mandated such identification by Muslim women when it in fact did not (see CBC report, 2nd link provided). He vilified the Chief Electoral Officer in September, a foreshadowing of his similar attack on nuclear regulator Linda Keen, who was simply following the law that Harper had passed.

These two attacks were terrible low points for our country this year, to watch our Prime Minister attacking decent, principled public servants who were following the laws and were unable to defend themselves.

Keep that in mind as you hear the platitudes being mouthed today...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Leadership means farming out major decisions to others

Afghanistan - John Manley et al.

Whether or not to have a public inquiry on the Mulroney-Schreiber disaster - even when you've already publicly committed to it - David Johnston.

Stephane Dion's not a leader? I think someone else is demonstrating at this year's end that he's much more worthy of that designation...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mini Bush: sinkin' like a stone

"Tory support plunges in wake of Mulroney, Bali, isotope controversies: poll." My that's terrible news the week before Christmas...:)
A new poll suggests Stephen Harper's Conservatives have lost their big lead over the Liberals in the wake of recent controversies, plunging six percentage points in popular support in just one week.

The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey puts the Tories at 30 per cent support, in a statistical tie with the Liberals who are up four points to 32 per cent. Support for the Tories dropped across all regions and demographic groups.
A drop of 6 points in a week. While this is heartening for those who oppose the Harper government, it still leaves the Conservatives and Liberals in minority government territory. But let's consider the results anyway.

I've floated the theory that the more we see of these federal Conservatives, the more we don't like them. This is why, I believe, Harper prorogued the House until October to give them additional months away from public scrutiny and with an abundance of careful and almost daily stage managed events. Then the push was on to go immediately to a fall election, before the lens could again be applied to their performance as a government. This poll perhaps bears out my view, that they're just not up to the task in managing major events in a manner Canadians are comfortable with and the more Canadians see that, the more they rebel. The pollster suggests this is the case too:
Nevertheless, Anderson said the fundamentals underlying Conservative support "remain fairly sturdy." He suggested Tory popularity may rebound in the new year as attention shifts away from the nation's capital during the six-week parliamentary Christmas break.
What does that say for a political leader's fortunes? As long as you go away, we might like you better...:)

They're out of sync on environmental priorities and Baird just made a mish-mash of things in Bali. And I would venture a guess that Harper's high profile trashing of Linda Keen and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission as partisan Liberal appointees came off as a major buck passing event that was totally unnecessary and pointless at the height of a serious crisis that needed work, not partisanship. It's another disappointing episode when his raw political instincts rear their ugly head in the House and he utters such nonsense. It's right up there with their "Liberals don't support the troops" hatorade. And for the most part, Harper's been able to get away with such mistakes due to the Conservative p.r. machine.

The problem, however, is that not all events can be so carefully stage managed. Daily challenges require more than p.r. responses. They require talented individuals leading us at the federal level. And the Conservatives are significantly challenged in this regard. I mean, what's there to like?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Rove cited for contempt and about to get more scrutiny

Dan Abrams' series called "Bush League Justice" focussed yesterday on the politically motivated prosecution of former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman who today sits behind bars doing a 7 year sentence. Republican luminaries in Alabama who came under scrutiny for the same matters as Siegelman were not investigated at all, by contrast. There's evidence this prosecution was driven by none other than Karl Rove. I tuned in because one of my faves, Scott Horton, the excellent legal blogger for Harper's was a guest. So here's the damning segment. Abrams is vowing to stay on the case.

Rove was cited for contempt by the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. Senator Leahy has clearly decided to test the supposed impartiality of new Attorney General Michael Mukasey. Horton believes that this move has to do with the bubbling up of the Siegelman case. If that's the cae, Rove is not home free by a long shot.

Jeez, when you can't trust a former separatist to dig up dirt on the Liberals...

I'm a little late to the party on this one, but it's the resolution of one of the most irksome stories of the past year on the Harper hypocrisy front, I'm still jumping right in.

Because, you know, when a renowned ex-separatist you hired to dig up dirt on the Liberals turns on you, things are gettin' prettty bad for Harpie...:) What an excellent use of taxpayer funds, Mr. Harper. Your comrades at the National Citizens Coalition must be so proud of you.

Many bloggers have weighed in already on the two-month-sat-upon Paille report on past Liberal polling practices that had been commissioned by our oh so righteous Conservative government. Pointing out the incredible backfire on Harper's move given that Paille was actually critical of the Conservatives for their first year in office and their unprecedented spending on polls. Far be it from me to pile on...:) Heh, heh...:) But sitting on a harmful report for two months and releasing it on the day Brian Mulroney testifies in an almost unprecedented public grilling? Well, we all know what that calls for:

Never thought I'd say it...but good for Daniel Paille. All that noise about his separatist background and journalistic outcry over how he could possibly produce an objective result has apparently paid off with Mr. Paille's work.

Now as for Harpie? Such efforts underscore, as always, the worst tendencies of his leadership and government. Revenge. Hyper-partisanship. Too clever by half tactical moves. That's why it's especially gratifying to see it blow up in their faces.

I'm sure he'll keep at it in doing his utmost to attack Liberals. That's his whole rationale for being in government, don't ya know....:)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

"Let the girl have a chance"

A tragedy haunting the GTA right now: the murder of 16 year old Aqsa Parvez, allegedly by her father. There's a worthwhile editorial in the Star on the tragedy today. An excerpt:
Like most Canadian teenagers, Aqsa Parvez just wanted to grow up her own way, hanging out with her friends, dressing like them and pushing her curfew. Her tragic death this week, allegedly at her father's hands in the family home in Mississauga, has shocked our community to the core, and has also highlighted the cross-generational and cross-cultural pressures that many families face.
But whatever the facts, Aqsa's friends believe that a culture clash was playing itself out in the Parvez family before her death, which contributed to the other, inevitable strains that any immigrant family faces. The family came from Pakistan, and the parents are religious.

Reacting to that perception, thoughtful community figures such as Atiya Ahsan of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women have been quick to urge Muslim parents to take an understanding approach to their teenage children, to focus on the core values of their faith and not to obsess over a piece of clothing.

"If you know that your girl is good and she practises her faith ... then for heaven's sakes, you know, let the girl have a chance," she says. That would be good advice for any family.

Blue state/red state comes to Canada courtesy of Mini Bush

It's really shameful what Harper is doing to Linda Keen, the head of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. She really should sue him for defamation. Unfortunately for her, Harper's comments seem to have been largely made in the House of Commons and he's shielded due to parliamentary immunity. If he makes one false move, or any of his government members do outside the House, she should get a lawyer on these people pronto. What an absolute abuse of power on display by the PM to tarnish this woman's credibility and integrity like this. Here it is (from the CP link):
At the same time, Harper took another shot at the head of the CNSC, Linda Keen, mocking the Liberals for initially suggesting "the government should simply sit back and let Ms. Keen and the commission resolve this in their own good time."

On Tuesday, Harper directly blamed the "Liberal-appointed" NCSC for keeping the reactor shut down and putting lives in jeopardy due to the resultant shortage of radioisotopes used in diagnostic cancer and cardiology tests.

The prime minister's clearly-stated lack of confidence in Keen, a career bureaucrat who insists she has no political affiliation, has raised questions about whether she can continue in her post. But CNSC spokesman Aurele Gervais said "she has every intention of staying on."
Absolutely she should stay on. No wonder Harper's got a deficit in his support among the women of Canada.

And it's quite the message to those occupying similar positions on government commissions. The Prime Minister might come at you and blame you if there's the slightest upsetting of the government applecart. You're to blame as you are a Liberal appointee. And inherently, you're tainted. Partisan blinders dictate to this Prime Minister, despite the objective evidence of the qualifications of such persons for these positions. Scott Tribe vetted those at issue yesterday and found the Liberal appointees to be shockingly eminently qualified to regulate nuclear safety.

But none of that matters to Mini Bush, because it's all about saving his hyper-partisan ass. And discrediting a legitimate government regulator, in league with the conservative philosophy of government we've witnessed during the painful years of the Bush administration. The more you taint the government's institutions with partisanship, the less faith people have in them. And the less motivated people are to care about it due to the disillusionment with its effectiveness.

Well done, Mini Bush. Well done.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


The Cynic just kills me sometimes: "the Stephen Harper National Association of Inbred Banjo Pickers."


Oh no, there are no earthquakes in Ontario

Just this one. And we've been described as a "hotbed of seismic activity." But never mind.
A Three-Mile-Island-type of nuclear accident could occur at Canada's Chalk River reactor unless a backup power supply system, capable of withstanding natural disasters such as earthquakes, is installed, according to an assessment by the president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

It is "essential" that the safety equipment be installed on two crucial pumps before the reactor, which makes more than half the world's nuclear medicines, is restarted, Linda Keen wrote in a blunt letter to two federal government ministers.
"There will be no nuclear accident," Prime Minister Stephen Harper asserted in the House of Commons, saying the government has received independent advice indicating there is no safety concern.

"On the contrary, what we do know is that the continuing actions of the Liberal-appointed Nuclear Safety Commission will jeopardize the health and safety and lives of tens of thousands of Canadians. We do have the responsibility to demand that Parliament step in and fix this situation before the health of more people is put in jeopardy."
Maybe if there's a nuclear accident Harpie can blame the staff at the plant if they're Liberals...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Harper playing rabid partisan politics with nuclear safety

Is there no partisan low to which our Prime Minister won't stoop? We have a developing health crisis in this country due to the problems at the Chalk River nuclear reactor and Harper's answer is that this is a product of Liberal appointees? Huh? What planet is this guy on that he would raise such a partisan, time-wasting sideshow of an argument to a problem at the forefront of the nation's public attention right now? The details:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has accused the Liberals of blocking the production of medical isotopes, suggesting the Opposition has jeopardized the health and safety of “tens of thousands” of Canadians through its political appointees to the federal nuclear regulator.

The Prime Minister made the surprising charge during Question Period when asked about the government's emergency legislation that will compel an Ontario nuclear reactor to restart for 120 days so it can alleviate a global shortage of medical isotopes.

The legislation will be introduced later Tuesday.

The government blames the shutdown of the Chalk River nuclear reactor, responsible for half of the world's medical isotopes, on a battle between the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and Atomic Energy Canada Ltd. – a dispute that Ottawa says must come to an end.
Here's attack dog Harper needlessly pouring flames on the barbie:
“The continuing actions of the Liberal-appointed Nuclear Safety Commission will jeopardize the health and safety of lives of tens of thousands of Canadians,” Mr. Harper said.

“Since when does the Liberal party have a right from the grave, through one of its previous appointees, to block the production of necessary medical products in this country? This is not in the public interest ... The longer this goes on the greater will be the public health damage and the Liberal party is standing in the way of fixing this.”

Mr. Harper said the government had independent advice that there is no safety concern with restarting the reactor.
Since when is nuclear safety a partisan issue? And how dare he impugn the integrity of these appointees as he's doing in the House of Commons like this? Suggesting that for partisan reasons they are keeping the reactor shut and ignoring public health concerns. Say it outside the House, Mr. Harper, as you so famously taunt others.

This is reinforcement of the view that, despite all protestations to the contrary, Harper is the politician on the federal level who is not a leader. Leaders don't finger point at every turn. They wrestle with a problem and do their damnedest to solve it. Whining about regulators, who may have been appointed by Liberals but who are doing their jobs is petty, beside-the-point rhetoric. Nothing more.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Canadians demonstrating and Harper ignoring them

"Hundreds across Canada rally to demand Ottawa take action on climate change." Well done to all these people who are raising public consciousness at this crucial time as the Bali meetings progress.

Stephen Harper and John Baird remain convinced, however, that they are doing the right thing by demanding that all nations be held to the same standards, otherwise Ottawa won't sign on:
A Canadian environmental group says leaked federal document shows Canadian negotiators in Bali are under explicit instruction to undermine a fundamental principle of the Kyoto Protocol.

Climate Action Network Canada, an alliance of environmental groups, says the move is guaranteed to derail momentum as the Bali negotiations enter their critical final week.

“The leaked instructions direct Canadian negotiators to demand that poorer nations accept the same binding absolute emission reduction targets as developed nations,” the alliance said in an e-mail to The Canadian Press.

It said the Kyoto Protocol is built on the recognition that industrialized countries are largely responsible for the problem of climate change, and must take the lead in tackling it.
The Conservatives are apparently opting for the selfish world view that would equate our abilities to address this issue with those of developing nations. It's rather obscene.

One can only surmise that the Conservatives think they will win the next election irrespective of such protests and opposition to their environmental policies. Their strategy has been to neutralize the issue and some commentators have supported that view. I would hazard a guess that they have focus groups who have opined on the issue and they are consequently happy to stay with their pretty rhetoric that suggests they are leading when in fact they are obstructing. In other words, it's very likely that they have made their environmental calculations and they just don't give a rat's ass what we think they should be doing. They have decided, overtly, to throw in with the U.S., the world's leading emitter who will not commit to any binding reduction targets.

Harper and Baird might as well be thumbing their noses at us. They think they can beat the Liberals in the next election and that Canadians won't be voting on the environment issue. That's what their actions suggest to me.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The falling popularity of the ADQ

Mama Marois still out in front in Quebec polls and Dumont's ADQ sinking back into third place.
A potential problem for Harper is the falling popularity of the ADQ, which the federal Conservatives view as an unofficial sister party in Quebec.

The ADQ rose from near obscurity to win 30 percent of the vote in Quebec's election but since then Dumont's star has waned steadily, in part because his parliamentary caucus is young and inexperienced.

"You can't say who is going to win the (next Quebec) election but the ADQ will neither be in power or form the official opposition," Claude Gauthier of CROP told La Presse.
Good for Harpie or not? We report, you decide...:)