Monday, June 29, 2009

Song for Iran

From the site:
On June 24, Iranian Superstar Andy Madadian went into an LA recording studio with Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and American record producers Don Was and John Shanks to record a musical message of worldwide solidarity with the people of Iran.

This version of the old Ben E. King classic is not for sale - it was not meant to be on the Billboard charts or even manufactured as a's intended to be downloaded and shared by the Iranian give voice to the sentiment that all people of the world stand together....the handwritten Farsi sign in the video translates to "we are one".

If you know someone in Iran - or someone who knows someone in Iran - please share this link:
(h/t robertmcbean)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Blogging milestone

Of some sort, don't know if this is good or bad! Noticed this week that this number was coming up. This is my 6,000th post since beginning the blog back in April of 2005. And it seems like just yesterday that this little hobby began...:)

It's kind of funny (and sometimes embarrassing, let's face it) to look back on your older posts and see how one has evolved as a blogger. Writing style, emphasis, some positions taken, causes pursued, tilting at windmills, you name it. I was much less of a "L"iberal at the beginning and much more of an anti-Bush blogger. Spent the majority of time with my earlier posts writing about U.S. issues in a greater depth of detail than I'd ever really do these days, mostly due to that widely shared intense and motivating dislike for W and what he wrought for the world. As anyone who reads knows, however, that focus has greatly shifted and it's pretty much all-Canadian all the time around here.

This blog led me to join a political party in December for the first time since a minor dalliance in high school/university. It becomes hard not to commit when you're engaging with issues regularly that you care about. One of the upsides of this blogging experience.

Another upside, have met some fabulous committed people, Liberals yes, others in the blogosphere and now the twittersphere. This online world can be strange and insular but positive too. "It is what it is." Then there are the people who regularly email and send thoughts, support, stories they feel need attention, that's been so great. Love the graphic contributions too (you know who you are)!

I know some out there find my lack of comments problematic and I'm sorry for that but it's going to remain that way for now. My blog, my life, for many reasons. Don't intend for that to sound flip (even though it probably does!) I don't get many complaints about that at all, btw. Think people know what to expect when they arrive here and they're OK with that.

Am blessed to have a flexible life that allows me to keep this up. I guess it'll continue until I've run out of things to say (what?!) or life intervenes. For now, onwards and thanks for reading...:)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Harper backtracks on his attack ads

Hard to defend nonsense in person, isn't it? A bit of a grilling from the infamous ATV anchor, Steve Murphy, puts Harper on his heels about the childish, uncivil, personal attack ads against Michael Ignatieff. Bobs, weaves and ultimately gives a typical Harperian response about the ads that once again reveals his mode of governing:
Pressed repeatedly on whether the negative Conservative Party ads slamming Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff for his time out of the country represent his own view, Harper dodged a direct answer four times during a Halifax television interview.

Harper defended the campaign's claim that Ignatieff is "Just Visiting," saying the source for the ad material is "strictly Mr. Ignatieff's own words and own record so he's the one who has to answer questions on that."

CTV host Steve Murphy asked Harper a fifth time about his personal view. "Do you think that he is in any sense disqualified from aspiring to be prime minister because he's been out of the country?"

Harper stammered, and reluctantly disavowed the main thrust behind his party's ad campaign, which just concluded a broadcast run across the country.

"Every, every, every, obviously every Canadian citizen's eligible to run for office," Harper said. "But obviously our records, motives, statements, all these things will be under scrutiny, they always are, of all party leaders in an election campaign."

Asked if he thought the ads "were working," the Conservative leader said, "that's really for party officials who worry about that," but suggested the ads had had at least one desired effect.

"To the extent that I think the ads have made the Liberal party think twice about having an election, I think that's been a good result. Because I don't think Canadians want an election. I think it would be another round of political instability. And so to the extent that it's put that party a little bit back on its heels and maybe thinking a little bit more about how to cooperate and actually dealing with the economy, I actually think it's been helpful."
(emphasis added)
There's the big headline point here, that he's visibly uncomfortable in defending the thrust of the ads, that Ignatieff is disqualified from running due to his years of international employment. If you watched it, it clearly wasn't a question he wanted to engage. Who can defend such cartoonish silliness anyway? He can't and he conceded the point.

But that last paragraph of Harperian babble is, as always, incredible to hear coming from him. The Liberal party needing to think about how to cooperate more? From this wielder of confidence votes ad nauseam? Please. From the PM who tried to decapitate his political opposition by cutting off public funding immediately after an election where it never appeared on the agenda? Please. A plea to cooperate more on the economy from the PM who denied any problems were coming? It's almost embarrassing to hear. What's so cynical is that he knows most Canadians don't pay that much attention to such details and he still makes such statements, exploiting it to his advantage. The last part of the "Sham-ocracy" series today deals with his disingenuous practices. As does Jim Travers.

Also remarkable, Harper's taking to equating an election with political instability. And his constant repetition that "Canadians don't want an election." It's all nonsense and should be countered at every turn. Back at the height of the coalition drama, he seemed to be in love with the notion of constant elections. We needed them whenever a confidence vote was lost, we were told by the PM and his p.r. machine, contrary to our constitutional traditions that would have permitted the opposition to take government without an election (because we had just had an election). Now, however, when we've moved well beyond the post-October '08 election period where an election would actually have to be held following defeat on a confidence vote, he's suddenly developed an aversion to elections. Too unstable, is the line.

And that's the challenge posed by Mr. Harper's tenure. It's irresponsible for the PM to be playing such games and dabbling in such p.r. campaigns. He's manipulating the rules of our constitutional traditions as he goes.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Illuminating series in the Star

Trying to have a quiet day in the blogosphere here, but there are things you cannot but help draw attention to when they catch your eye, like these observations in today's "Sham-ocracy" series in the Star, "Turned-off Canadians tuning out."
IT DIDN'T HAPPEN overnight. Instead, this trend has been in the works over decades with both Progressive Conservatives and Liberals in government, though many observers agree that the worrisome trends have accelerated since Prime Minister Stephen Harper took power in 2006.

University of Toronto political science professor Lorraine Weinrib charges that Harper has an "extended track record" of showing disdain for the principles and practices at the heart of Canada's constitutional system.

"While Harper touts the democratic principle as his ideal, his actions align with another principle – an all-powerful executive authority that makes his own rules," she writes in an essay for a book titled Parliament Democracy in Crisis.

She notes how the Conservatives cancelled the court challenges program, which provided funding for court challenges by rights advocates. Harper himself has challenged the non-partisan officers of Parliament, such as the head of Elections Canada and the ethics commissioner. (emphasis added)
That emphasized part is why some of we bloggers are committed to that Harper free Canada thing...:)

This is a series of reports to follow, picking up on Jim Travers' recent series of columns on the same topic. Good for the Star for pursuing this topic. The political events of the last 9 months or so have been illuminating about the weaknesses in our constitutional system that a prime minister can exploit. As it turns out, in most instances of late, it's not been to the good end of the spectrum.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday night music

It's been a while! Here are a few new ones from Pete Yorn, we like him around here very much. New album out this week, "Back & Fourth." Check out "Social Development Dance" on it ("I googled you in quotes, got no results"), just excellent.

Auditor General working this summer?

Could be, this important "Enabling Accessibility Fund" and the odd Conservative distribution of it begs for scrutiny. If we can't distribute funding for disability projects across this country free from partisan advantage then our political system is morally bankrupt. It's hard to see how the Auditor General can avoid looking into what appear to be unconscionable numbers here:

...94 per cent of the funding approved so far from the $45-million Enabling Accessibility Fund has gone to Conservative-held ridings.

In particular, only two of 89 applications for major project funding have been approved, both for $15 million and both in Conservative ridings - Calgary Northeast and Flaherty's Whitby-Oshawa in Ontario.

One of those two major projects is the Durham Abilities Centre in Ontario.

Flaherty's wife, Ontario MPP Christine Elliott, and his executive assistant, Nancy Shaw, are on the board of directors and Flaherty himself served as a director in the past, Savage wrote in a letter to Fraser.

Savage said disabled organizations have complained that the application criteria for large projects appeared "custom-made" for the centre in Flaherty's riding.

Moreover, he said many non-profit organizations were shut out of the application process for smaller projects because of the strict criteria and one-month time frame they were given for preparing applications.

Drops in non-Conservative ridings, buckets into Conservative ridings. An ongoing story to follow, that's for sure.


Canwest repeats ugly, unfounded allegations from a Conservative muckraking flyer sent out by Conservative Vic Toews and makes it a national news story. As Aaron Wherry pointed out yesterday, the contents of the flyer have been totally debunked in the past, for example:
...Ignatieff was adept, even emotional, in rebutting accusations he had ever insulted Ukrainians. In fact, a fair reading of the contentious chapter on Ukraine in his 1995 book Blood and Belonging shows it to be a subtle meditation on nationalism in the context of the Ukrainian experience under Soviet domination in the 20th century.
With such a vicious charge drawn from an obviously partisan source, a news organization, you'd think, would go further than Canwest did in this report to determine its legitimacy. Or do they just intend to type up and circulate any old flyer the Conservatives put out this summer?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Truthiness in stimulus spending

It was reported last night by Canadian Press that "Almost all economic stimulus cash would keep flowing during election." Yet Harper Minister and head of Treasury Board Vic Toews was stating the opposite in the House of Commons today during Question Period. So, a reminder for Mr. Toews and to anyone wondering about the truth:
More than 90 per cent of the economic stimulus planned for this fiscal year will continue to flow whether or not opposition parties defeat the federal government and force an election on Friday.

And that fact blows a big hole in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's best argument for avoiding a summer vote.

"I think it's largely bogus," says Allan Maslove, public policy and administration expert at Carleton University.

"Governments don't shut down (during an election), they continue to spend money. So all of those programs that were approved can go forward."

Out of $22.7 billion in infrastructure and other stimulus measures announced in the January budget, Treasury Board officials confirm that parliamentary approval has already been received for $21.1 billion.
90 percent, Mr. Toews!

This important information was blogged by the BCer last night, then picked up by Kady O'Malley this morning, as noted by Scott Tribe. Apparently it needs to be said quite a bit in order to counter the Conservative myth making factory.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Harper on Fox

As they say, document the atrocities...

Quick overview...

No stance on Gitmo, when asked. No to taking any detainees. Deference to the U.S. on Khadr. Same old, same old, Harper will continue to disappoint on this to the end.

Voters around the world are reluctant to take chances on parties with uncertain economic plans...positioning as he considers his own prospects. Because you know, his record has been a model of consistency (no deficit, no recession, oops, big deficit, big recession).

"Coalition" moment at 6:15 and ff.

Misrepresentation: Cdn government had surplus going into recession.

Seemed to be quite a lot of arguing over merits of stimulus spending, repeat of prior Harper interview in U.S. Not clear how this helps.

Not until about 13:00 mark does the protectionist point about "Buy America" come up.

Cavuto asks Harper about U.S. appointing "czars" for different issues...another no comment from Harper at end of day.

Again, left wondering what is the point of these interviews? Anything accomplished other than bolstering Harper's image in the right wing sympathetic American media? Even for them, it's not clear, having watched it, what they get out of having Harper on.

Unless Canadians view this video or read the reporting on it, not that much impact in Canada, except perhaps the coalition remark. And of course, a reminder that our Prime Minister chose to do a national television interview with American media over Canadian just as his government released an economic report it might go down on. Priorities, reinforced.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Dropping the ball one issue at a time...

Great video seen at BCinTO's site, very well done, garnetandgreygrit.

On needless political instability

A further brief follow-up on this part of Harper's speech yesterday:
"We are on the right course. The only thing that can get us off course now is needless political instability," the Prime Minister said.
A rather brilliant retort here:
On the matter of needless political instability, the Prime Minister can at least claim some expertise. Indeed, having promised neither a recession nor a deficit, Mr. Harper returned to Ottawa last fall not quite ready to acknowledge either. Having to seem though like he was doing something, he offered to bankrupt the opposition parties. What would come to be called an “unprecedented democratic crisis” ensued. He identified his opponents as enemies of the state, then kindly asked the Governor General to shut down Parliament so that he might avoid losing a confidence vote. In a recently published book, a collection of academics spend several dozen pages agonizing over it all. (Six months later, with his poll numbers in Quebec described as dismal, news comes that he’s hired a disciple of Lucien Bouchard to sell francophones on the Conservative cause, thus officially exhausting irony as a concept.)
No need to add anything at all to that...!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mr. Harper and his storm clouds

(Updated below)

(CP) That has to be one of the most representative snapshots of Mr. Harper to date...

The PM's speech today in Cambridge was full of misrepresentations. Never able to stand on his own two feet and inspire Canadians about his own record, Mr. Harper must attack, attack, attack. Create straw men and fight imaginary battles everywhere. From a PM who openly told us in the fall that all was well, that "we are not going to go into deficit," now $50 billion plus in deficit later, his credibility is just shot. Nevertheless, here's the stuff he was peddling today:
On the other hand, every day in Parliament we face demands to change this course. We face demands from the Opposition to spend literally tens of billions of dollars more and to make stimulus spending permanent.

That would mean deficits that would not only be larger but permanent as well. And that would mean tax increases.
This is all pure nonsense. From the man who put Canada into a deficit before the recession began, with overspending and yes, reckless GST cuts, there's no reason to take lessons from him on economic management whatsoever. The Prime Minister remains in escapist and obfuscation mode. Weapon number one, scare the Canadian public about tax increases at every turn. So it's not surprising that in a nationally televised scripted event with pre-approved questions from a stacked audience and a sympathetic former tv host, that's the shtick we see.

For an interesting bit of reality in contrast to the fakery, look at the recent EKOS numbers (pdf) via FarNWide on the issues:
While the numbers are good across the board for the Liberals, what is particularly relevant with this poll, the issue orientated numbers. Canadians are asked to comment on importance of issues and who is best able to deal with them. The overall score on issues gives the Liberals a substantial lead:

Which party is best able to deal with these issues, overall score?

Libs 38%
Cons 29%
NDP 17%

Of particular importance, on the question of jobs and unemployment, the Liberals lead 41% to 31%. That suggests real erosion on the last remaining "strong suit" for the Conservatives, managing the economy. We also see the two parties basically tied on the question of who is best able to deal with the deficit.
There are many reasons why Canadians are turning away from this incompetent government, the most recent being the medical isotope shortage. Today's economic song and dance event reminds us that it all starts with the propagandist in chief.

Update (6:15 p.m.): In case you want the Coles notes version of today, they gave themselves an "A" but with a big caveat...80% of projects "being implemented." On that note, see this, some interesting photos of the implementation.

Update (7:45 p.m.): From CP, some more reality checking on Mr. Harper's self-assessed "A":
The touted 80 per cent overall implementation rate includes 100 per cent implementation of things like the home renovation tax credit, although the government has no idea yet how many homeowners may actually take advantage of it.

On infrastructure, the government's own accounting shows less rosy results.

Only about 42 per cent of the $3.2 billion earmarked this year for the provinces and municipalities has actually been committed, and even less has been spent.

And for infrastructure projects entirely under federal jurisdiction, the number is even lower - 34 per cent of $960 million - with even less spent so far.
That 80% figure? Not even close...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Election machinations being moved up by the Conservatives

Big news in the undertow today, perhaps obscured by the Raitt matter. The Conservatives have moved up the Liberal opposition day such that the vote on any confidence measure proposed will be on Friday June 19th. With the notice of such motion having to be tabled on Wednesday June 17th, one week from today. From Globe link:
Conservative House Leader Jay Hill has moved up the Liberals’ opposition day, just as Liberals debate this morning whether to use their slot to move a non-confidence motion.
Liberals were originally told the last opposition day, which goes to them, would be on Tuesday, June 23. That’s the last scheduled day before the summer recess. The last opposition day is now booked for Friday the 19th, with a rare Friday night vote on the opposition day motion.
There will also be votes that night on the government’s main spending estimates. The estimates votes are always matters of confidence, meaning a government defeat would force an election.
It is highly unusual to hold votes on Fridays because most MPs head home to their ridings the night before.
A measure of Conservative concern over the Raitt document & tape fallout (pardon the pun), Chalk River mismanagement that has caused a major national health crisis, exploding deficit numbers, and so on and so on. After Michael Ignatieff announced his intention to make a "serene and clear decision" on whether to move non-confidence, not surprising that the Conservatives have decided to increase the pressure on him with a little focussing of the mind manoeuver. It likely won't change Ignatieff's decision calculus, he'd already stated Liberals would decide by the end of this week in any event. There are plenty of reasons for the Liberals to go, that's for sure.

And plenty of reasons for Conservatives to not want an election. The latest of the Raitt tape disclosures comes this afternoon. Would love to see the Chronicle Herald keep rollin' it out for the foreseeable future. I mean, 5 hours...they've likely only scratched the surface.

Not up to Liberals alone, though. That's the kicker.

Monday, June 08, 2009

The judges are standing up to the dangerous Harper Conservatives

What kind of democracy are we living in under the Harper Conservatives folks? From an editorial note accompanying the Chronicle Herald's report on the Raitt tape story tonight, very instructive background on the case today from Dan Leger, director of news content there:

As you will see in the accompanying story, the conversations reveal a minister dealing with the medical isotope crisis but also concerned about her political opportunities. She thinks the isotope issue is “sexy” because it deals with cancer and contamination.

Despite the plain public interest in this information, we agreed at the advice of our lawyers to hold off until a hearing could be held Monday afternoon before Mr. Justice Gerald Moir of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court. The three-hour hearing produced a decision which has allowed us to print Mr. Maher’s story.

But that almost didn’t happen. When the hearing began, Ms. MacDonnell’s lawyers wanted not only to suppress the story, but demanded a total ban on all aspects of the dispute, on the names, places, details and facts. They claimed that the public had no right to know about the conversations reported in Mr. Maher’s story.

The newspaper’s argument was that the matters at hand have national significance, as you’ll see in the story.

Dan Leger, Director of News Content
They certainly do have national significance...


The Stephen Harper party would apparently like us all to know a few very important things this morning, none of which have to do with governing but all of which have to do with their priority at the moment, political survival and staving off an election:
"The war room is being staffed up, the airplane is booked, buses are being readied, and the campaign strategy and platform are being developed," a Tory source told The Hill Times based on briefings provided to Conservative MPs at their recent national caucus meetings.
Part of very loud posturing to make the opposition parties cower before the great Conservative election machine. Perhaps they should be paying more attention to the issues of the day, however, and governing. While they may brag of war room staffers, there's another side to the coin. Nobody wants to jump on board with the S.S. Harper, as CP reported yesterday.

They're having trouble finding chiefs of staff for three ministers at the moment, including the newest employer on the block, Lisa Raitt, minister of Natural Resources and lost documents. Seems that the prospect of losing the government and the stifling control from the PMO is keeping the talent away in droves. It's all part of that "Stephen Harper: Leadership" thing of attracting the best and brightest...not.

So, no luck in recruiting key players for the actual business of governing, but that war room's staffed, that's for darned sure. Priorities, priorities...

Le Devoir gets a brown envelope

Quite the week for the Harper government in terms of their credibility on many fronts. Their deficit projections were blown out of the water by their own admissions and by TD Bank. Their minister of Natural Resources lost documents that indicate millions being spent on Chalk River that have not been disclosed publicly to Canadians in the federal budget.

Throw the environmental file into the mix this week. Today Le Devoir discloses the contents of a brown envelope sent their way by some fine whistle blowing citizen. The documents disclose strategy documents of the Harper government for a follow-up meeting to Bali. The strategy was to attempt to surreptitiously undermine the Bali agreement on greenhouse gas reductions, an agreement that the Harper government signed, albeit reluctantly. The strategy included, for e.g., playing European nations against one another by singling out nations like Italy, to cause a "breach" in the European family. To intimate that Canada would withhold aid to developing countries unless they agreed to mandatory reductions and to ultimately not sign on to anything long term unless India, China & Russia agree to binding reductions as well.

In other words, the documents portray Canada as trying to undermine privately what it's agreed to publicly. Should do wonders for our international credibility, not that the Harper government has much to begin with on environmental matters in any event. This should just confirm it to other nations.

Looks like more questions for the Harper government to answer today.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

The generous Canadian taxpayer paying millions for Conservative ads

Given the political tax credit regime we have in this country, it's worth pointing out that the $5-6 million Conservative smear campaign is being financed in substantial part by the Canadian taxpayer.

Contributors to Conservative coffers (and all others) get tax credits financed by Canadian taxpayers for those donations. On donations of between $0 - $400, the donor gets 75% of their contribution back in the form of tax credits.

Let's say that the majority of the $5-6 million ad buy is being financed by contributions in the $0 - $400 range, just for the sake of an example. And let's just call it $6 million. That means that the Canadian taxpayer is reimbursing these donors to the tune of 75% of $6 million. $4.5 million from Canadians for these ads.

Does that seem right at the height of a recession?

(But perhaps we're getting a good return on our investment?)

Update (7:20 p.m.): To be clear, this is not a slag against public financing in any respect whatsoever. Canadians support public financing. But we count on political parties to manage public financing appropriately and they all do, except the one that is presently dinging us, per above. That party is also fighting Elections Canada in court and is being investigated by them. We know who that party is.

"[T]his government...does not care about the rule of law"

Some commentary appears this morning on the Abdelrazik ruling the other day, putting it in the larger context of the Harper government's relationship with the law, in light of the numerous Federal Court rulings going against the government.

Canadian judges once deferred to government on questions of national security. No more. Federal Court Justice Russel Zinn's withering critique of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government for refusing to let a Canadian citizen back into Canada is just the latest in a series of judicial decisions indicating that, on matters of terrorism, the courts no longer believe everything Ottawa says.
So far, Harper has ignored the courts.
Now the front-line Federal Court is pushing back hard. Why? University of Ottawa law professor Craig Forcese says it's not so much that the judges are changing. It's that the government is becoming more obdurate.

"The court is ... following the law," adds Toronto lawyer Paul Copeland, a special advocate in the Harkat case.

"The reason there have been so many orders against the government is because this government, even more than previous ones, does not care about the rule of law."
Globe editorial:
Ottawa could show that it understands the errors of its arbitrary and unconstitutional ways by agreeing to take back Mr. Abdelrazik, rather than seeking a stay and appealing the ruling. Justice Minister Rob Nicholson could do what he does not seem to have done thus far, or at least, not done effectively: push the cabinet to act within accepted legal norms. Based on the Conservative government's track record, expect it to take "trust us" to a higher court.
One after another, judges on the Federal Court and the Supreme Court have chastened, rather than trusted, the federal government. Perhaps judicial activism on these benches is rampant; more likely, Ottawa is consistently wrong. Abousfian Abdelrazik is a citizen and has a right to come home. (emphasis added)
Could there be any more damning indictment of a government? A supposed "law and order" government that hypocritically puts on elaborate presentations replete with backdrops full of nifty slogans to make a show of being strong criminal justice types. That "law and order' posturing is a farce in the face of these repeated rulings. On the one hand they seek to ratchet up penalties and sentences, yet on the other, when they're the ones being handed a sentence in the form of these lost Federal Court cases, they ignore those judgments. They're the lawless ones with no moral authority to support their latest electoral gambits. They cynically count on the Canadian people not to understand their hypocrisy.

The Federal Court is speaking loudly to Canadians in repeated rulings against the Harper government, amplified now by the media. I hope Canadians are listening and figuring out that this government does not walk their talk.

Update (5:45 p.m.): Just saw Dr. Dawg's piece from yesterday, worth a read. Although I do see a pattern with this government, which is to pick and choose their legal position based on what they perceive to be the most electorally advantageous on any given legal issue.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Four cheers for the Federal Court: attempting to correct Harper government international incompetence

To recap the Federal Court's activity over the past few months.

They ordered the Harper government to seek clemency for Canadian Ronald Smith, sitting on death row in Colorado. Notable in that decision was the court calling out the Harper government's arbitrary policy of intermittently seeking to help Canadians facing the death penalty abroad.

They ordered the Harper government to repatriate Omar Khadr. That of course is being appealed by the Reformatories, their arguments filed yesterday: "Ottawa says it has no duty to protect Canadians outside country." Remarkable that a Canadian government goes to court to take such a position. I've already argued that Justice O'Reilly in his trial level decision narrowed his order sufficiently so that an appeal arguing that he'd established a broader duty to protect would likely not be successful, so I won't repeat it here. Hopefully the Federal Court of Appeal will agree and join with the legion of other decisions occurring within the court at a remarkable rate these days going against Harper government choices.

They ordered the Harper government to permit the Military Police Complaints Commission to hold hearings on the issue of Afghan detainee treatment and their transfers by the military to the Afghans. The Harper government has fought that process at every turn, attempting to sweep this scrutiny under the rug. Other nations are examining their processes and wrestling publicly with their involvement in conflicts that have posed serious challenges to the application of the law by military personnel in Afghanistan, Iraq. Why Canada cannot is a mystery.

Today, they've ordered the Harper government to permit the return of another Canadian stranded abroad, Abousfian Abdelrazik.
Mr. Abdelrazik's Charter right to enter Canada has been breached by the respondents,'' Federal Court Judge Russel Zinn said in a judgment released today. “Mr. Abdelrazik is entitled to an appropriate remedy which, in the unique circumstances of his situation, requires that the Canadian government take immediate action so that Mr. Abdelrazik is returned to Canada.''
No wonder prominent Canadians are speaking out about our international leadership being squandered. The latest, former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour. On the weekend, Professor Errol Mendes.

The Federal Court is clearly holding the Harper government to account for its international failures. They are providing an absolutely necessary and important check on this legally challenged government we have on our hands.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Money doesn't buy you everything, Conservatives learn

Integrity, fairness, an even playing field outside an election period, such considerations don't compute in the Conservative mind, this Canwest report suggests. They are apparently baffled at the CBC's policy not to carry their political hatchet jobs on the airwaves of the public national broadcaster:
The Conservative party was unable to get television commercials aimed at Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation because the attack ads violated the network's long-standing ban on political advertising.

"We'll only accept political advertising like that when there is an election campaign on," CBC spokesman Jeff Keay said. "We have generally pretty strict guidelines."

The policy has been in place for many years and was reviewed a few years ago, Keay said.
What is the Conservative reaction? Bewildered that an institution charged with a public mandate in Canada might refuse their almighty dollars for considerations other than monetary:
One Conservative source, speaking on background, said the party thought it was odd CBC would turn down its advertising dollars at a time when the network was struggling under financial pressures. CBC has had to reduce staff and programming as advertising revenues have plunged.

No other network refused to carry the Ignatieff ads, the source said. The TV spots have received heavy airplay in recent weeks, and the cost of the campaign is estimated in the millions of dollars.
Money can't buy you everything, Conservatives, live and learn.

(h/t RamaraMan)

Wanted: one Cdn GM board member

Better be one heck of a board member:
"For Ottawa's participation in the GM bailout, it will get one seat on the new GM's 13-member board. But Washington, with its directors, will be calling the shots, even if they don't want to run the business. If you can imagine a common currency in North America, with the Federal Reserve having five board members to the Bank of Canada's one, that's pretty much the situation over at the new GM. And that one Canadian board member will have to defend not only the investment, which Harper acknowledges we might never see again, but Canadian turf, in keeping plants open and gaining our share of the new generation of fuel-efficient cars."
Was twittering about this yesterday, to the effect that a Danny Williams type would be good. Aggressive, challenging, critical. Someone else who comes to mind who has Windsor roots, financial acumen and national credibility, Paul Martin. Could end up being a very important pick, something to watch.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Word association fun

Is there any doubt about who's the flaming liability among political leaders in this country? This insightful chart from the Angus Reid poll that was released today (pdf) is instructive (click to enlarge).

Personal favourite scores for the PM: the "Dishonest" designation and the "Boring" score. Also of interest, Ignatieff versus Harper on the "Strong" choice.

Time for a change from Mr. Negative is what it all adds up to from any reasonable reading of the numbers.

Update (4:30 p.m.): And of course, go read Steve who is having a poll analysis extravaganza today.