Monday, November 30, 2009

What the Conservatives are reaping with some voters

From an angry resident of St. Paul's riding in Toronto, held by Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett, a response to the recent Speaker-rebuked Conservative flyer meant to target Jewish voters and win them over to the Conservatives. Here's what the Conservatives are reaping among some voters out there instead (sent via email today):
I received in the mail that "anti-Jewish" ten percenter from John Duncan, MP (purportedly). My response, sent to Harper follows:

Please find enclosed, a letter found in my mailbox from John Duncan, MP. Whoever he is. He’s not my MP. This missive is an insult to me.

First, I am not Jewish, but Christian.

Second, I find its contents racist and inflammatory.

Thirdly, I abhor any thought of being anti-Semitic and over my lifetime have had friends of the Jewish faith. So this insults me.

Fourthly, it is my understanding that this was paid out of revenue from my taxes. That, too, is an insult. It should be financed out of the funds of the Conservative Party of Canada, not from taxpayers. Because, sir, it is a partisan pamphlet. No amount of spin can justify this. And, let me assure you that this doesn’t contribute to any support from me at the ballot box.

I am, to be frank, disgusted.

I should think that Canadians should be reimbursed for the tax money used in this message.
Oh to have a Prime Minister who would give such messages a second thought! Unfortunately, what the Conservatives will now do is just slot this response into the pile designated as "unlikely Conservative voter" and remove him from their list of targeted voters going forward. It may feel quite satisfactory to vent at the Conservatives but in effect, this actually helps them out by culling their voting lists.

Still, worth showing as a good example of the sentiments the Harper government seems to feel no qualms whatsoever about riling up.

Update: I think the writer meant "anti-Semitic" in that first part.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday night

It's an Emily Haines night...more here. She seems to be quite sought out to sing for the techno crowd no doubt due to her uniquely suited voice for it. The Tiesto one above is not the original, which is best, but it's a more efficient version.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Mercer does political junk mail

In view of the Speaker's ruling today, timely rant.

Leadership means whatever way the wind is blowing

For our great leader, it depends on what day it is and what other world leaders are doing: "Harper to attend Copenhagen climate summit."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper will attend the Copenhagen climate change meeting next month after all, his office said Thursday — a day after saying he would not go.

Harper decided Thursday to attend the meeting to work on a new climate change agreement after the U.S. president and Chinese premier announced that they will show up, his spokesman said.
This is, of course, a very principled exercise of leadership. He's said all along that he'd go if others did. See?

Worth thinking about

Lawrence Martin writes today:
"What to do now? The only way for the Liberals to really batter the Conservatives is to give them a lethal dose of their own medicine. A strategy of total aggression, starting with personal attack ads aimed directly at the Prime Minister. Mimicking Tory tricks, use dated Harper quotations to pillory him. Drag out the old Harper lines that showed him smearing the country as second rate. Highlight his long list of flip-flops and displays of hypocrisy."
Such a blitz would put an end to the Harper free ride.
Total aggression, that sounds exactly right for taking on the Harper Conservatives. Personal attack ads of the variety Martin describes sound quite justifiable, there's lots of hypocrisy material in particular. Goes to trust, saying one thing/doing another, etc. The Harper pledges on the deficit, for example, would be big. Patronage, accountability, lots of material. It's his record after all.

Then there are all the quotes from the B-team that are just ripe for the picking: Maurice Vellacott, Gerald Keddy, Lisa Raitt. Quite a picture that could be painted.

Not to exclude or diminish the policy ramping up, at all, there can be two (or more) tracks. But this one-sided onslaught has to be met at some point.

Ekos poll a little more interesting this week

This week's Ekos, why not. Federal numbers: Conservatives 36.9; Liberals 27.1; NDP 15.3; Green 11.4; Bloc 9.4. Recall the big story polling wise over the past week was the tightening of the Liberal and NDP support to within about five percent courtesy of another poll. This result is clearly quite different.

Other items catching the eye here...

Ontario numbers: Con 39.3; Liberals 33.4; NDP 15...

Quebec: Con 22; Liberals 22.7; Bloc 37.4; NDP 9.4

Under 25 age group: Liberals 24.7; Con 21; NDP 18.8.

Daily tracking numbers around November 12 & 13th tightened up, this could have been due to H1N1:
November 12: Con 35.4; Lib 28.5
November 13: Con 33.1; Lib 30.1. Just one day there, the numbers tend to show a spread of what we're seeing nationally today overall, but interesting.

Would you say the government of Canada is moving in the right direction or wrong direction?
Right direction 43.4
Wrong direction 43.7
There's an opening...strongest "wrong direction" number in Quebec, then B.C. Strongest "right direction" in...wait for it...Alberta, then Saskatchewan/Manitoba, Ontario. (Ontario splits right 44 to wrong 41). Also interesting, the gender split here. Women: wrong direction 44.4 to right direction 38.8. Men: right direction 48.2 to wrong 43.1.

Another poll, for what it's worth, not so bad.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

In-and-out is not really a free speech thing

Day two of the in-and-out litigation at the Federal Court and the Conservative argument went to the free speech issue: "Free speech at stake in ad spending case: Tory lawyer." The argument is basically this:
A lawyer for the Conservatives says freedom of expression for political candidates is at stake in a Federal Court case over $1.2-million worth of disputed party advertising in the 2006 election.

Michel Decary told the court Tuesday that even though the radio and television ads promoted the party's slogan for the election and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, it was legal under federal election law for local candidates to claim the expenses.
We have dealt with this free speech argument in the context of the in-and-out case before around here. From the archives, here's one take on why the free speech label they are applying to their in-and-out expenses argument is basically not correct:
To say that Elections Canada is determining the content of ads, dictating what is local versus what is national, well, that characterization seems compelling on the surface with its appeals to free speech and all. Making it look like Elections Canada is really in the censorship business. As Frum writes:
And Elections Canada has a similar choice to make about how it treats speech. It could give local candidates wide scope to express themselves in the way that those local candidates think most effective — or it can create a new role for itself as the hall monitor of Canadian elections, adjudicating what candidates can and cannot say in their campaigns.
Unfortunately for Frum, the issue's really been settled when we decided to have national versus local spending limits. They mean something. There's no giant pooling of national and local money to buy national ads. So the situation's not as ambiguous and all expressive and choosy as Frum tries to make it out to be. This reader on the Post website pretty much nailed the problem with the Conservative and Frum position:
The rules that exist allow the federal party to spend about $18M on national advertising (or other national expenses) and a local riding to spend about $80K. So, Mr. Frum suggests some Conservative candidates might think they are better served if the party would spend $22M on national advertising and they only spent $10K or so each, but they still collected their $80K from taxpayers as if this was a local expense.
That latter mathematical formulation is the problem with this "free speech" argument, it would render the national versus local spending limits meaningless and ding the taxpayer in the process. Funnily enough, the Conservative lawyers were even arguing yesterday that in a federal campaign, there are no local issues. That's probably news to a lot of voters out there where issues fall differently in different ridings. But whatever absurdity helps them make their argument, right?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Checking in on the "in and out" litigation

The "in and out" litigation is being heard in the Federal Court this week. This is the one where the Conservatives are seeking to exploit what they believe is a loophole in the Elections Act. It's a gigantic loophole that they're arguing for, actually, one that would essentially render meaningless the federal campaign spending limits on national parties. Their argument is that they can transfer funds from the cash rich federal party into the local ridings and then have the local ridings buy national ads - yet pass those expenses off as locally incurred. This is what they did in the 2006 federal election and in doing so exceeded their national spending limit by $1.2 million. It's why they're in court this week. The Chief Electoral Officer disallowed those supposedly "local" candidate expenses because they weren't in fact locally incurred. This lawsuit is essentially a defensive shield against that Elections Canada ruling.

One of the kickers to this situation is that the Conservatives, who transferred this federal money in and out usually on the same day, want the local candidates to get the local candidate reimbursements for those funds, 60% of which are paid for by the taxpayer. An obscene, aggressive way for the Conservative party to make some extra cash on the Canadian taxpayer's back.

In addition to arguing for the "in and out" loophole, they're also putting forth the argument that the Chief Electoral Officer is essentially a neutered automaton. That is, in this case, they're arguing that Marc Mayrand the CEO had no power to disallow the above expenses, he has no power to investigate any expenses presented to him. This led to incredulity from the judge yesterday who pointed out the existential absurdity then of Elections Canada actually having an audit department that Canadian taxpayers pay for to, you know, assess the propriety of candidate expenses under the auspices of the CEO. The Conservatives even went so far in their defensive maneuvering as to argue that the CEO would have to presumptively certify fraudulent expenses put to him, given that he theoretically has no discretion to reject them. How ridiculous. The CEO would have to refer the matter to the federal elections commissioner for investigation. They must have some legal basis for making this argument but it certainly seems bizarre.

These Conservative arguments are consistent, however, with the Stephen Harper version of Canada. It's one where financially level playing fields in elections are not valued. It's one where Elections Canada's effectiveness as an independent arbiter in our electoral system is weakened.

Some of the coverage yesterday: Canwest, Star, Sun and CP. Le Devoir is behind a wall but you do get a glimpse of Helene Buzzetti's opening paragraph where she referred to the judge as having "manhandled" the Conservative lawyer yesterday, a dynamic shared in the CP reporting. Hopefully that's a sign of things to come for the Conservative case.

Jim Prentice office occupation yesterday (video)

Great little video here, just a straight up interview but this protester is disarmingly candid and pretty effective. He conveys frustration from youth on the environment issue quite clearly here. And he's got his facts and figures all lined up and he's ready to quote them! Swats back Solomon's characterization of him and his protest band as engaging in "radical" action. A little idealistic in response but he gets to the point: "No, what's radical is that "Prentice" is one of the worst for blocking progress on climate change!" Also interesting, the way he repeatedly refers to "Prentice" almost as an epithet throughout. Maybe we should make a verb out of it: to "Prentice" meaning to block meaningful progress on any given issue.

They certainly drew attention to the issue yesterday, before ultimately being arrested and charged with mischief.

More on the issue here as Quebec breaks from the Canadian position in advance of Copenhagen, committing to 20% reduction targets in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2020. That would bring Quebec in line with the European Union's target. Quebec will be represented within the Canadian delegation, yesterday's move by Premier Charest giving us a preview of the mixed signals that will be coming from Stephen Harper's laggard Canada while at Copenhagen.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Irwin Cotler statement in House of Commons

On the shameful flyers/ten percenters disseminated by the Conservative propaganda attack machine. A man with great integrity and the perfect spokesperson for this issue. Well said.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Food for thought

"Lessons my mother taught me." Worth a read this afternoon.

Small steps

"It looks like the Liberals are caught in that old classic pincer movement," said Bricker, "where they're now not just losing their centrist and slightly right-wing voters, they're also starting to lose their left-wing voters . . . to the NDP."
Partly why I have been advocating Liberals support the gun registry. If C-391 makes it to third reading, and Liberals whip the vote, then NDP and Conservatives will be the ones to defeat the registry. A clear statement would be made to voters who support it. Note that some NDP faithful are ticked.

The polls are not prohibitive here, EKOS on Thursday actually showed a majority in favour of gun control. There's support for the principle.
The EKOS poll suggests supporters of the gun registry are more likely to be university-educated, Liberal or BQ supporters, or living in Quebec.
Fifty-four per cent of people surveyed agreed with the statement that “with the exception of law enforcement, gun ownership should be outlawed completely."

Forty-six per cent of those polled agreed with the statement that “all Canadian citizens should have a legal right to bear arms.”
There's your base and there's your principled justification.

Whether this issue is still on the table or whether a decision has been made to just let it go, that's another question.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday night

More than a slap on the wrists required

"Speaker slaps Tory wrists over hyper-partisan flyers." Speaker Milliken has ruled that one of the Conservative ten percenters against NS MP Peter Stoffer was "...a breach of his privileges as an MP and could potentially damage his reputation." Now it moves on to a Commons committee for more examination and there could be a remedy. Maybe. This committee apparently operates by consensus and to date nothing has stopped the barrage of partisan ten percenters, particularly from the Conservatives who have been shown to be abusing this privilege.

An additional complaint has been filed by Liberals over the latest trash from Conservatives and that too may motivate some rules now being initiated on these flyers, content or quantity wise. If this rash of defamatory material doesn't do it, who knows what will.

The answer is not to ban the vehicle completely, that could be what the Conservatives are hoping to accomplish by abusing the privilege and causing outrage. That's what they do (e.g., the Senate). Used properly, they're a means for MPs to connect with citizens and we shouldn't ban such uses of taxpayer money as long as the privilege is exercised reasonably.

Let's hope for some sanity on the issue given the high profile instances in the news now, it's a good time to act.

Update (8:15 a.m.): The Star weighs in with an editorial that captures the vibe on the Conservatives' flyers targeting Jewish voters.
Ever since their near-death experience of last December, when they almost lost power to an opposition coalition, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the federal Conservatives have been working hard to project a more moderate image.

But every so often the curtain is lifted and we get a peek at the nasty partisanship that still animates both Harper and his party.
They are unabashedly embracing this stuff now, they think they are invincible.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mercer does the Economic Action Plan signs

A follow-up on this item...

Record food bank visits

While we read this, "Parliamentary restaurant to serve seal meat," where exotic additions are being made to some menus in the land for political reasons, let's not forget this big story: "Food bank visits soar as jobs disappear."
More Canadians than ever before are turning to food banks to make ends meet in recession-ravaged households, Food Banks Canada reports.

Close to 800,000 individuals, roughly the equivalent of New Brunswick's population, visited food banks in March, according to the HungerCount 2009 survey released Tuesday.

That represents an increase of 120,000 users – or about 18 per cent – over March 2008.

"This is the largest ever year-over-year increase in food bank use on record," Katherine Schmidt, executive director of Food Banks Canada, a charitable organization that represents most of the country's nearly 700 food banks and works to raise awareness of hunger. (emphasis added)
Sobering food for thought, pardon the pun, as we're spun about the government's stimulus plan creating jobs. Those record numbers are striking.


Worthwhile exchange to watch here between Liberal MP Irwin Cotler and Conservative MP Joe Preston on the topic of that flyer that was much discussed yesterday. The Conservative m.o. of misrepresentation in full flight yet Cotler firmly refuted the "facts" in the flyer and did so in fighting form, particularly the last minute. Nice to see.

Still for the gun registry

This item caught the eye yesterday and prompted some thought about the gun registry issue. It's still a big unknown as to what the parties are thinking going into committee on C-391 and whether it will survive a committee vote. Or whether a new piece of legislation might be considered by the Liberals and NDP, as suggested here, in conjunction with killing C-391. That seems a stretch to me but whatever route would defeat the registry killing C-391 is worth considering. For now, for what it's worth, here are some thoughts on why killing C-391 is the good political choice for the opposition, with emphasis on Liberals in particular.

1. This is a time when Conservatives think they're virtually invincible, on the cusp of a majority. Maybe it'd be good to hand them a loss and send a big signal to the Canadian people in doing so. Raise some doubt about that winning perception right now, show that the Conservatives can be beaten.

2. A win of any kind would be good for Liberals at the moment. Don't underestimate the wind (breeze?) that may be at your back with a "win" on an issue, no matter how it's done. Liberals (and other parties) can get a win here simply by defeating a private member's bill. It's cheap, there is no monetary expenditure required, no tv ads to be run, no travelling required. Just vote against it. It's a win simply by defeating a bill that is dear to the Conservatives and this in and of itself is motivating. It's also a win because you can spin it easily enough. "Hey, all we did was defeat a private member's bill, happens all the time, very few of them pass. If the government were behind this gun registry abolition they'd move a government bill on it." You can also easily say you're just maintaining the status quo. The gun registry will be left intact, nothing's changed so let's not lose our heads here. At the end of the day, it's a win for those wanting to keep the registry.

3. It can be used as a small step toward redefining the Liberal party as progressive. You have to distinguish yourself from the Conservatives. Ignatieff has been fond of saying Liberals are the "party of the center where elections are won," but that's not really doing much for the numbers these days. It's not easy, especially while in opposition, to be in the mushy middle on everything. People are lumping Liberals in with the Conservatives, show them it's nonsense. And really, it's not redefining here, it's reaffirming a basic Liberal policy, for gun control.

4. You can afford to ignore the polls on this issue. When it comes to your principles, stick to them, otherwise you're just a pollster, putting your finger to the wind and you'll be blown back and forth and all around. What are the Liberal numbers at lately anyway...28% or so? Aren't the numbers of those supporting the registry around that or a little higher? You're not going to hurt yourself, you might even strike a chord with Quebec voters if you speak to the issue well. Is the next election going to be won or lost on the gun registry issue? Probably not. Grow that base, cultivate it, women, Quebec voters, progressives. If you are perceived as taking a principled stand, the numbers may grow in your favour.

5. You can reach out while standing up for the gun registry. The way in which you act and publicly position yourself while voting to keep the registry counts. You don't have to do it in a way that is dismissive or condescending to those who have legitimate concerns about the registry. Appeal to them by saying OK, it's not perfect, let's try to fix it and pledge to do that in the future. But let's not take a wrecking ball to what we have now, that we've invested in - yes - but which system is up and running now at a manageable cost every year. This is actually an improvement, politically anyway, on the Liberal position, you can say we're not just status quo gun registry, we're status quo but let's have a debate about improvements. We're the party that doesn't tear down and destroy, we fix what's wrong even though that's hard work.

6. You can seize the law and order issue. To an extent, anyway. The police use the registry thousands of times a day yet the Conservatives want to destroy that valuable law enforcement tool. Huh? How can they plausibly be the "law and order" party if that's how they value the police? Turn the issue against them here, do some of that Karl Rove jujitsu (how it pains me to say). Say "we're with the police," over and over.

Again, hard to say what's going to happen here. But there are plenty of ways to handle this politically if the parties can get it together to defeat the bill in committee or perhaps at third reading.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Just when you think Conservatives couldn't go any lower...

They do with advertising on our dollar that pursues a vile form of politics, accusing Liberals of anti-Semitism. Part of the Conservatives' ongoing effort to corner the Jewish vote, some of the most offensive ten percenter flyers to date have been sent out:
The "scandalous" flyers, endorsed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and which target ridings with large Jewish communities, accuse the Liberals of participating in an anti-Semitic conference in Durban, supporting terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah and specifically go after Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff for accusing Israel of committing war crimes.
Here's a guy who has a lot of credibility to speak to this and bat this nonsense back:
Montreal Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, himself a Jew, was visibly shaken by the flyer that went to his Mount Royal riding as well as Volpe's riding, Liberal MP Anita Neville's Winnipeg South Centre riding, Liberal MP Bernard Patry's Pierrefonds-Dollard riding and NDP MP Thomas Mulcair's Montreal riding of Outremont.

"This is totally misleading, it's false ... and it basically seeks to associate the Liberal Party with anti-Semitism. This is shocking ... this has no place in Canadian politics," Cotler said.

The former Liberal attorney general noted it was a Liberal government in 2002 that banned financial support to Hamas and Hezbollah.

"Let the facts show ... that it was the Liberal Party in 2002 ... (that) listed Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations. This notion that we somehow sought the delisting of Hezbollah or somehow (we are) indulging terrorism is a scandalous misrepresentation," Cotler said.

The reference to Durban, the controversial UN World Conference against Racism held from Aug. 31 to Sept. 8, 2001, in Durban, South Africa, which provided a platform for anti-Israeli sentiment, is also misleading, the Liberals said.

Cotler said he went to Durban 1 as an observer and noted that the then-Israeli government specifically asked Canada to remain at the conference "and make its voice felt and bear witness to what was happening."

He described the Tory flyer as a "scandalous misrepresentation" of the facts.

Cotler said Ignatieff did accuse Israel of committing war crimes in one instance during the 2006 conflict in Lebanon but later publicly apologized.
What do you say about a government that seeks electoral advantage by trying to pick off voting blocks by appealing to group insecurities, here by appealing to the worst of sentiments? It's head shaking, sad and maddening all at once. The non-stop Conservative electoral campaign knows absolutely no bounds of decency.

Look at the big smile, he stands fully behind his material:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Conservative Senator Housakos & friends in the news again

Three persons described as being "close" to Senator Housakos have received federal appointments in recent months:
Trois proches du sénateur conservateur Leo Housakos ont été nommés à des postes rémunérés de l'administration publique fédérale dans les derniers mois, a appris Le Devoir. Ces trois personnes, près du parti au pouvoir, ont atterri au Conseil arbitral de l'assurance emploi, à Via Rail et à la société d'État Ponts Jacques-Cartier et Champlain inc.
That last appointment to the board of the Crown corporation governing the Montreal bridges is the most intriguing here. Recall the present ethics investigation into Senator Housakos and the fact that a company he was allegedly employed at was awarded a federal stimulus contract by that federal bridge corporation. This report suggests that a political associate of Housakos, Serge Martel, was appointed to that board in December 2008 (during prorogation vacation).

Note that an earlier CP report had already reported on the Via Rail and Employment Insurance appointments referenced in today's Le Devoir report, so I'm not sure why the showy "Le Devoir has learned" intro. But they do provide more detail on the relationships between those two individuals and Senator Housakos.

Conservative hypocritical patronage gets some more attention with this story. Additional scrutiny is likely to be applied now in the ethics complaint involving that stimulus contract. And more questions in the House of Commons likely today...

Harper's big day in India: translated

Allow me to translate this report on yesterday's "Poli-wood" events as presented by Indian media above:

Anchor dude...Stephen Harper...Akshay Kumar...Olympic Torch. That's about all you need to know.
(Music swells)
Harper passes torch to Kumar, can't believe his incredible good fortune to actually be hanging with a cool guy. Starstruck. Loving sideways glance. Thinks to himself: I am sooo going to rock the Indian vote, just look at this scene!
Cut to priceless shot of Conservative MP Patrick Brown with a look that one can only describe as jealousy at the new guy hanging with the boss and how did I get stuck here at this dud of a table.
Harper does a nod to recent terror event.
Back to hanging with the cool guy. Checking out Olympic threads.
More jealousy, bewilderment at Patrick Brown's table that the cool guy & Harper are checking out Olympic threads.
Cool guy cites Mahatma Gandhi, relates it to torch.
Harper plus cool guy torch footage repeats, the two will live happily ever after. Or at least in Conservative campaign commercials coming soon to an election near you.
Junior reporter sums up. I think he says something about how Harper just couldn't hold a candle to Akshay Kumar's superstardom and was silly to even try. Trust me, I'm fluent.

Slumdog Prime Minister

From the Mercer archives but in honour of today's appearance:) That's a little more like it...


Monday, November 16, 2009

Well this is not a good headline

"From tragic to ridiculous in Mumbai."

Distinctly uncomfortable looking video here which gives a great sense of the room.

The not so large audience included a bevy of Conservative fans...I see Stockwell & his wife (with camera in hand), Deepak Obhrai, Patrick Brown, Nina Grewal...

And the answer, thankfully he didn't dance. Metaphorically, yes, but literally, no.

Update (4:50 p.m.): From the solemn site of a terror attack to a dance stage, laughing and clapping, within hours. It's an awesome political machine...

An historic achievement for Canada

Praise is being heard today for the former Liberal government who led the world in establishing a landmark treaty to rid the world of landmines: "Canadian landmine initiative saved thousands of lives: report."
The Canadian-led treaty to rid the world of landmines has saved thousands of lives and significantly reduced production and use of the devastating, anti-personnel weapons, according to a new international report.

The Ottawa Treaty, which was implemented 10 years ago, made the use and production of landmines illegal in 156 countries that ratified the accord.

According to the 10-year review in Landmines Monitor, unexploded weapons have been cleared from at least 3,200 square kilometres of land in more than 90 countries.

In the past decade, 2.2 million landmines have been removed, along with 250,000 anti-vehicle mines and 17 million explosive remnants of war shells.
The international Mine Ban Treaty, signed in Ottawa in December 1997 and enacted as international law in March 1999, is seen internationally as one of Canada’s most significant diplomatic accomplishments.
And you know what's coming next, don't you? The Conservative government has essentially walked away from such disarmament efforts. There was a next stage to the landmine treaty, a global consensus on the need to institute a similar follow-up process on cluster munitions. Yet Canada was no longer interested and Norway and Ireland took the lead. To the rest of the world, that sees a Canada that would formerly have been there to enthusiastically participate in such efforts, Canada's new role in turning its back on such diplomatic achievements is baffling. Why would you walk away from such an international legacy?

The answer of course is that this international acclaim arises from the "B.H." era, Before Harper. Government policy from that era is inherently suspect and quaint notions of continuity aren't entertained. We don't do the treaty thing anymore, our inclinations are not so peace oriented. In fact, our foreign policy has become distinctly politically oriented. Meanwhile, applause for the former Canadian government:
Paul Hannon, executive director of the Ottawa-based Mines Action Canada, said the study confirms “the wisdom of Canada leading the world to ban landmines.”

“This report documents clearly the progress that has been made and shows we continue to get closer to a world free of anti-personnel landmines” he said.
Congratulations Canada for this historic ongoing achievement on the international stage - that the Conservatives want nothing to do with.

Poli-wood 2009

Are you enjoying "Poli-wood 2009?" That's what we're dubbing it around here.

For the next few days in India, catch one middle-aged Conservative leader's belated political trip, four years into his mandate(s), made at that crucial juncture between minority and majority government cuspage, just to woo the Indian voters back home in Ruby Dhalla's riding.

Get ready for the carefully scripted political itinerary, chosen by the chess master himself as he attempts to mine all the possible political gold that can possibly be squeezed in during a three day trip to India. See an Olympic torch ceremony today with one of India's biggest Bollywood stars, Akshay Kumar! Get ready for the television dance show visit and much more! Nothing is off limits during Poli-wood 2009!

But will he dance? This is the big question...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Conservative anti-Copenhagen war room

Set up on your tax dollars. Canada's effort to obstruct yet not look like it's obstructing justifies a special effort:
Without fanfare, a special "climate-change unit" was created to operate outside normal bureaucratic channels, devoted exclusively to planning one of the biggest and most complicated negotiations the Conservative government has faced. Today, the high-powered federal group includes dozens of senior government officials from different departments and even some key recruits from the private sector.

Former business journalist Deidre McMurdy, for instance, was hired away from a national think-tank to manage communications surrounding the Copenhagen confab. No effort or expense was spared.
Of course not, the public till is there to be used for Conservative self-promotion, why not an anti-environment war room? The war room is aiming high:
A senior federal official puts it more bluntly, saying the only strategy occupying the war room these days is "how to get in and out of Copenhagen without being blamed for what's not going to happen."
The fact that meetings leading up to Copenhagen are producing much disagreement is said to be "...bringing quiet sighs of relief inside the Harper government." Weston nevertheless suggests that the Conservatives deserve some kind of credit because they're "being honest about doing nothing," in comparison to the Kyoto-signing Liberals on the international environmental treaty score. That should make the highly paid p.r. folks in the "climate change unit" war room very happy.

Here was Harper yesterday at APEC putting a positive spin on his government's position, relating the disagreement among nations:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Google Wave overview

Something totally non-political for you this morning...watched this last night after seeing it circulated on twitter. Looks like it could be a great organizational tool. Any group can use the wave function to collaborate on documents, circulate ideas, brainstorm. It seems to be a way for groups to tap into a central location to build up thinking, planning on events, strategies, issues, etc. The real time functionality of it makes it interesting. That's just an impression from a quick viewing of this video, I'm sure the learning is all in the doing.

Also seems to have the potential to be a big encroachment on one's time unless it's managed well! But isn't that the case with any new application you integrate into your life these days.

Happy waving!


Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday night

Inspiring the youth of tomorrow

This sounds about right:
Karen Williams is disappointed with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The Grade 12 student from The Woodlands School and fellow members of the school’s Environmental Council called Harper’s office in September to voice their opinion on climate change and received a shocking response when they received a call back, discouraging them from calling again.
“We wanted him to say, ‘Hey, thanks for calling me and we want to make a change in the world,’ but that’s not what he said,” Williams told The News yesterday, replaying the morning the school received a call from the prime minister’s office.
Instead, she said, a representative from his office requested the principal go on the P.A. system and ask students not to call anymore.
The old "no record of the call" trick is hauled out:
Dechert said the PMO has no record of the call to the school, but says it wasn’t authorized by Harper or his chief of staff, Guy Giorno.
No, I'm sure it wasn't, which is not the point. The gut democratic instincts of the Harper Conservatives are what matters. Chalk up one more instance, inspiring the youth of tomorrow, one precious mind at a time...


A note on Ekos polling

Update (4:00 p.m.) below.

From an email received this morning:
I got a call from EKOS yesterday.
Couple of things struck me. The listing of political parties, for one.
5 options. 5 parties. Liberals number 5.
Could this lead to a fatigue and pressing earlier?
The order should have been Conservative-Liberal-NDP, then the Bloc and Greens as they are "fringe". No "none of the above". Why was the Bloc even listed in English Canada? Couldn’t vote for them anyway.
Issues: very heavy on gun control.
I guess they're trying to make the ordering of the parties truly random so as to get a true read on people's preferences, so the Liberals ended up fifth. I'm sure that's the case, right?

Bizarre that the Bloc is included in polling outside Quebec though.

It appears we're getting polling numbers on the gun registry next week to follow up yesterday's. But ultimately, I'm sure our MPs will decide based on principle, not polls. Right?

Update (4:00 p.m.): Apparently this is normal polling protocol, when asking questions that list options the order is rotated with each call. 1 becomes 5, 5 becomes 1, 2 becomes 3, etc.

Why is CIDA publicizing Conservative MP tours of a museum exhibit?

A press release from CIDA, released via the Marketwire service tells us this: "Brent Rathgeber Tours Afghanistan Exhibit at St. Albert Place." Rathgeber is a Conservative MP who sits on the Justice & Human Rights Commons Committee. But why did CIDA feel the need to put out a press release on behalf of this MP extolling his itinerary in his riding? Rathgeber doesn't appear to have any connection to CIDA. A government exhibit just happens to have been on in his riding. They did the same thing for Royal Galipeau's tour of this exhibit in October when it was in his riding.

So we must ask, is this the latest use of our money for their self-promotion? Why are Conservative MPs being conferred this publicity benefit out of CIDA's budget for what looks like a typical MP riding event?

Thursday, November 12, 2009


The blurring of the roles continues from the presidential wannabe administration of Stephen Harper. A bit of a follow-up to the post this morning where we took a moment to affirm the Governor General's role as commander-in-chief in the wake of Jean's donning of a military uniform yesterday at Remembrance Day ceremonies.

This afternoon, courtesy of Kady O'Malley, she points out this press release from the Prime Minister's Office, "PM honours troops with Sacrifice Medal," where it is carefully worded to read that the Prime Minister "...participated in the inaugural presentations of the newly-created Sacrifice Medal at Rideau Hall." The Governor General presented the medals, notes O'Malley, yet you'd never know it from the impression conveyed by the Prime Minister's press release. The very title of the release - and the picture they chose - is clearly meant to suggest that Harper gave out the medals.

He's not the commander-in-chief, period, and they should stop mucking about with our symbols.

A video reminder from the summer of that other high profile effort by the Prime Minister to usurp the role of the Governor General:

Our money, their self-promotion

The ongoing series of revelations of how wastefully Conservatives are spending taxpayer money continues: "Tory stimulus ads ripped as $3M pat on the back."
The Conservative government spent more than $3 million of taxpayers' money in September on an advertising campaign that amounted to little more than self-promotion, a Liberal critic says.

The newspaper and web campaign, called Creating Jobs, didn't attempt to inform Canadians about how infrastructure stimulus spending was creating employment opportunities – only that the Conservatives declared it was, Liberal MP Martha Hall Findlay (Willowdale) said Wednesday.
Notice the timing, the ad upticks always seem to occur around a politically sensitive moment the Conservatives want to manipulate:
A government document shows that Cossette Communication Inc., solely responsible for Ottawa advertisement buys since 2003, spent $3,111,877.44 from Infrastructure Canada on advertising from Sept. 14 to Sept. 29.
The money was spent around the time of the release of the government's third economic report card.
The money on the above campaign would also have been spent during a month where the prospect of having an election was still on the table and the "no election" campaign from the government began. This particular $3 million ad onslaught likely helped with that government messaging too. There has got to be an interesting back story here on the timing of these ads and their planning to be told by someone.

The larger point here is the ethical one. Why Conservatives feel they have the right to continue spending so excessively on such self-serving and uninformative fluff while we go into deficit is a real puzzler.

You know who's going to want one too...

Noted about Governor General Michaelle Jean yesterday:
Michaëlle Jean stood at the National War Memorial Wednesday in full army uniform, the first time in her four years as Governor-General that she'd worn military garb to Remembrance Day ceremonies.

It was a senior Canadian Forces official working on leave at Rideau Hall who convinced her earlier this year that donning an army uniform would be a fitting way to show respect for the men and women under her formal command, the Governor-General's office said. And now she in intends to wear one to all major military events.
Suits us just fine. A fitting reminder of who the commander-in-chief is.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Parting shots

Gilles Taillon writes an open letter to the media about his exit as leader of the ADQ. Clearly, he views his effort to distance the ADQ from the federal Conservatives, and his expression of intent to do just that in a face to face meeting with Senator Leo Housakos, as having sown unrest in the party against him. How this will continue to play out in Quebec is anyone's guess, Taillon has asked the police to investigate financial irregularities in the party and if the story continues, with ongoing references to federal Conservatives, it could muddy the Conservative effort in Quebec. Whether these allegations are a bit of sour grapes, parting shots, or whether there's actually something to it remains to be seen. Still, worth a look is Taillon's letter today, writing of his effort to break with the federal Conservatives:
Peu après l'annonce de ma candidature le 24 avril dernier, encouragé à ce moment par plusieurs dont Mario Dumont, j'ai senti un certain malaise au sein de l'ancien establishment du parti. Comme parti autonomiste, j'ai cru et je crois toujours qu'aucune influence d'un parti fédéral ne devait et ne doit limiter la marge de manoeuvre de l'ADQ. J'ai déclaré, lors du Conseil général de mai, que les distances devaient être maintenues avec le parti conservateur du Canada et aussi, avec tous les autres partis oeuvrant sur la scène fédérale. Ma déclaration a fait l'objet d'un reportage de Pierre Duchesne, de la société Radio-Canada. Celui-ci a clairement fait part de ma prise de position. Lors de ce même reportage le journaliste a aussi identifié le sénateur Housakos comme celui qui jusque-là, à titre de président de la Commission du financement de l'ADQ, faisait le pont entre les conservateurs au fédéral et l'ADQ au Québec.

Cette prise de position publique sur la nécessaire autonomie de l'ADQ, vis-à-vis les partis politiques fédéraux, m'a valu plusieurs réprimandes de membres influents du parti. J'ai donc décidé de rencontrer le sénateur Housakos et de lui faire part de vive voix de ma prise de position. Dans les jours suivants, la rencontre a bel et bien eue lieu dans un restaurant d'Ottawa. J'ai alors clairement dis au Sénateur Housakos, que je n'avais rien contre les conservateurs ou lui-même. Mais aussi, que sous mon éventuel leadership, l'ADQ travaillerait aux seuls intérêts du Québec et ce, sans aucune attache à quelque parti fédéral que ce soit. Je lui ai aussi fait part que comme membre de l'ADQ, il était le bienvenu et pouvait contribuer au financement de ma campagne selon les règles établies par le parti.

Je comprends aujourd'hui, avec les sorties publiques des anciens « propriétaires » du parti, Mario Dumont en tête, que mon élection à la tête de l'ADQ signifiait pour ces gens, la fin d'une alliance intouchable.
Given reports of provincial Liberals helping in the GOTV effort in Riviere du Loup, the ADQ's foibles may mean nothing. Guess we'll see.

The ADQ drag

Interesting goings on in Quebec. The ADQ is falling apart as the brand new leader resigns amidst fleeing caucus members. This story is of interest to observers of the federal scene given Harper's choice to ally Conservatives with the ADQ over the past few years and his choice to elevate Leo Housakos, an ADQ activist, to the Senate. CP has details of the additional potential trouble on the horizon:
Tory Senator Leo Housakos and Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office deflected comment Tuesday on new allegations of wrongdoing at the Action Democratique du Quebec (ADQ), where Housakos was the longtime financing director.

ADQ Leader Gilles Taillon resigned as leader on Tuesday, after only three weeks on the job, citing concerns about problems with the party's books as well as in-fighting.

"I found some troubling things in the party's financing practices since 2003 and I've asked the Surete du Quebec to investigate," Taillon said, without going into detail about what he says he has found.

There have been no formal charges nor any comment from the police on the matter.

Housakos, who was head of the ADQ's fundraising arm between 2001 to 2008, responded through his Senate assistant in Ottawa.

"Mr. Taillon is the leader of the ADQ, and as leader of that party, he's responsible to do as he sees fit," Housakos said in the statement.

"If he does have concerns about any matter, he can contact the proper authorities."

Dimitri Soudas, a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, directed all questions about the matter back to the ADQ. Soudas is also a longtime supporter of the provincial party and friend of Housakos.
The Harper party is cutting its ties of late to the ADQ. But as recently as the spring, at that fundraiser in Montreal that spawned an ethics investigation of Housakos, the head of the ADQ attended and was said to have "distributed tickets to the fundraiser according to some of the guests at the event." If there's a split between the two, it's a recent thing.

So how's all that Quebec mojo workin' for them one day after that fantabulous by-election win?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Blast you, Mercer

Why must you be so funny...

Plenty of reasons to support the gun registry

Some reading on that front today:

"Scrapping long-gun registry is pandering to vocal minority."

"MPs are way off target."

"If Long Gun Registry Is So Dumb, Why Do Police Like It?"

"Canadian Emergency Physicians opposed to repealing the Long-Gun Registry."

And then there is the unspoken influence of the NRA here that is worth considering. Here is an excerpt from a research paper on the ties of Conservatives to U.S. groups, here focussing on the NRA (see pgs 15-17 of the pdf for expansion of the point, click excerpt below to enlarge):

The Tyee piece on police support for the registry notes the NRA flavoured Conservative ad campaign that ran recently against targeted opposition members:
But while the Liberals and NDP were gutless in allowing a "free" vote of their MPs, it was shameful Conservative Party attack ads targeting rural Liberal and NDP MPs that likely pushed the vote over the top.

The radio ads and flyers were based on National Rifle Association tactics in the United States to pressure British Columbia Liberal MP Keith Martin and NDP MPs Nathan Cullen and Alex Atamanenko in their constituencies to vote to kill the registry.
We should seriously consider whether we want NRA style tactics to be shaping our political debates, particularly on this issue, and what it says about us to be giving in to them.

As Scott pointed out the other day, there is still lots of time for this bill's present path to change as compelling witnesses appear at the committee and public opposition develops. The opposition really needs to wake up here to what it's doing...

Eats, shoots & leaves

Can you spot the problem here? "Report: MP’s phone calls cost $3.7M." Read the report and you'll see. Interesting little mistake.

Slow. News. Day.

Morning after on those by-elections

Here's a report if you don't know what happened last night: "Tories, NDP make gains in by-elections." I'm pretty much talked out on these, did lots of that on twitter last night. So, a few brief items...

On that Montmagny pick-up by Conservatives, which is the really big news...I have expressed for two days now that this seat was likely going to go their way due to the tremendous effort they expended on the seat, including that last minute $242 million spending announcement on Friday. Pretty expensive pick-up, glad we taxpayers could help them out. Unknown, whether the Nixonian tactics that occurred yesterday in the form of robocalls to suppress the Bloc vote paid off to the extent of affecting the vote. A police complaint was launched. All in all, kind of an ugly result due to the obscene last minute spending and the robocalls.

On that B.C. win by the NDP candidate, this was a race that was supposed to be close yet it was a blow-out, likely due to an HST protest vote (a dynamic which bears exploration in the wake of that result). The Conservatives did their "Montmagny" act on Thursday of last week for this riding too, except instead of dropping $242 million, they announced the salmon judicial inquiry. Yet that gesture didn't overcome the stronger sentiment against the HST. So, any inkling that there is majority support for the Conservatives arising out of these results falters on this result, in my view. They had a good night, but not that kind of night.

Now I'm sure we're all sick to death of the by-elections, onwards...

Monday, November 09, 2009

B.C.'s Economic Action Plan signs painted in U.S.


There's one of the B.C. signs above, part of the B.C. Action Plan signage that is being farmed out to a U.S. company:
A member of the B.C. legislature wants to know why the provincial government is paying a Washington state company to make road signs extolling Canadian stimulus spending.
...the roads signs were made by Zumar Industries from Tacoma, Wash., which has received more than $1 million in work from the B.C. government in the last four years, she said.
This is the fallout from the Harper Government's promotional requirements that they've imposed on municipalities and provinces in connection with the stimulus spending. Those levels of government are required to pick up a big part of the tab for the federal initiative. As FarAndWide pointed out last week, this is a neat trick, the Harper Conservatives are forcing local taxpayers to pay for such promotional signs. Now they know, in B.C., that these moneys are being spent in the U.S. What a wasteful expenditure of taxpayer dollars.

Our money, their friends: the ongoing series

1. First point, still on the federal by-elections today...who needs spending limits when the public till is at hand?
Popular Tory candidate Bernard Généreux could win an upset in Montmagny-L’Islet-Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup.

The race is expected to be tight and the Conservatives announced Friday up to $242 million to widen a highway in the region.
The message of bringing home the pork has been amplified by the candidate:
"Being in power makes all the difference," Généreux told a local Radio-Canada reporter this week. "There's money available to create projects, but right now this money is not coming into the riding. So I want to get the maximum that the population should and can expect from a Conservative government right now."
What timing, $242 million the Friday before the election to help the candidate out, message well sent. One more reason why, as stated last night, it should not come as a surprise at all if the Conservatives win this riding.

2. Second point, the Star report today on various stimulus spending announcements across the country where future Conservative candidates are participating yet sitting MPs of opposing party stripes are excluded. There may be a question here for Elections Canada to weigh in on:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government have been using taxpayer-funding announcements to boost the fortunes of unelected Conservative candidates, critics charge.

While Conservative allies and would-be MPs are welcome at public announcements to splash taxpayers' money around Canada, opposition MPs say they've been pushed to the sidelines and even left in the dark about funding announcements taking place in their ridings.

Some New Democrat and Liberal MPs say they have only learned about funds going to their ridings when they looked in the local paper after the fact and saw unelected Conservative candidates prominently featured at government-financed events.

Liberals believe that if Elections Canada looks into the practice, Conservatives could be held in violation of strict laws intended to keep partisan and government spending separate.

"This is one more example of abusing government resources to benefit the Conservative party," says Liberal MP Martha Hall Findlay (Willowdale), who is in the midst of filing multiple official complaints to the Treasury Board and Elections Canada over the government's advertising and promotional practices. "This is another attempt to buy Canadians with their own, taxpayer money," she said.
Our money, their friends, how much clearer could the point be? There's a pretty blatant portrayal in the article of how the Conservatives are treating their candidate in Edmonton Strathcona as virtually the MP out there, undermining the present NDP MP. He's participated in five government announcements in the past few months, she has been excluded from them.

So is this more "whining" from opposition parties, to be shrugged off as just one more thing that all political parties do? Certainly we'll hear that from the usual suspects and those who are being worn down by reports of such repeated partisan abuses. But it isn't just about opposition MPs wanting to get into photos themselves.

Think about what the public is seeing, what message they're getting when a Conservative candidate appears so regularly in publicity from these announcements. The candidates are gaining good will and p.r., valuable commodities without having to spend any money themselves. The candidates also benefit from the announcement event itself, many of which are highly produced affairs. Again, they don't have to pay for holding an event on their own, they coattail on the taxpayer dime. These are all tangible benefits to the candidate's campaign that the government is conferring.

It's more boundary pushing from Conservatives, more of that blending of party/government that's not supposed to be happening. It doesn't appear that these incidents are "one-offs," either. Seems to be a well-planned effort.

It's a special time to be a Conservative in Canada, that's for sure.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Theme music

Some theme music for the most referenced item on the blog today. Surprisingly educational. We have to have fun around here too...
On Friday, International Trade Minister Stockwell Day announced Justice Bruce Cohen would lead an inquiry into the collapse of the salmon run.

Though the Fraser River borders part of the riding, Day insisted the last-minute announcement had nothing to do with the byelection.

Ridiculous Conservative spin

The opponents having fun, a lot of fun: "Tories position byelections as test of Ignatieff's leadership." As the report itself makes clear, none of the ridings have "ever been prime Liberal turf." Nevertheless, and of course, the Liberals are under the microscope. That's just the way things go these days. Imagine if a by-election were happening in my riding tomorrow, Parkdale-High Park, where the Conservatives barely register. If they lost such a hypothetical race tomorrow in such a riding, it would mean nothing about Conservative national chances. That's essentially what's going on in these by-elections. There may be a temporary p.r. hit but that wouldn't have been avoided by going "all in" in ridings that aren't win prospects.

None of this changes that ideally we need competitive parties in a majority of regions across the country. But that's not the case for tomorrow's races and that dynamic figures for other parties too, if they're honest about it.

But the really big story tomorrow should be how the Conservatives fare. If they're edging into majority territory courtesy of piano-playing popular Steve, then surely they should win at least 3 seats: B.C., Montmagny & the N.S. seat. B.C. because of the carefully scripted campaign, visited by high profile Conservative cabinet ministers, littering judicial inquiries on the eve of the vote. Montmagny due to the kitchen sink approach: their "star" candidate in an open seat, provincial Liberal help, celebrity endorsements (Demers). N.S., well, because it's always been Conservative territory. Of course, they're playing it low:
DeLorey said the Tories expect to be shut out themselves, pointing out that byelections rarely reward the governing party. But that message is almost certainly more an excercise in lowering expectations than a realistic prediction.
A party that's spent millions and millions of Canadian taxpayer dollars over the past year to there anything less we should expect than at least three solid Conservative wins?

Update (11:20 p.m.): Just to further underscore the point of parties being competitive in varying areas, we saw a recent reminder of that fact with the news that star Conservative candidate Chris Alexander would run in Ajax rather than Toronto, his home. An acknowledgement that even a star Conservative is not likely to win in Toronto. Same applies to Montreal.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

A successful Prog Blogs event

Just wanted to say thank you to Kelly John Rose and his wife Tracey for hosting the Progressive Bloggers get together this afternoon at their very unique abode in downtown Toronto, a very appropriate setting for the progressives to congregate in!

Always good to see the faces behind the sites and twitter accounts including: Garry Wise; Cam Holmstrom; Jeff Jedras; Notes from Underground; Runesmith; Uranowski; Queer Thoughts; Big City Lib; Jamie Callingham; Danielle Takacs; Calgary Grit; that Krengel guy (sorry, forgot site:)); Camille Labchuk; Mark Greenan; Mark Francis; and Scott Tribe, the dean of Prog Blogs, of course. Hope I didn't omit anyone and apologies if I did. There are pictures to come, I do believe, so if I've forgotten anyone, they will pop up there:)

Lots of talk on the state of affairs in Ottawa, the gun registry issue, recent inanities (certain Senators, ahem), various ridings of interest (Saanich Gulf Islands for e.g.), various politicians we love (and not so much love), various media we love (and not so much love), life events, who needs to blog more (Takacs, looking at you, heh), etc.

All in all, a good event to reinvigorate the blogging soul! Until next time...

Friday, November 06, 2009

Friday night...

The national infrastructure stimulus now comic fodder

The simplicity of the Mercer skit conveys precisely what the Harper Government™ has done with Canada's stimulus spending plan. They've skewed it into an almost comic display of dollars being shunted to Conservative ridings above all others. The latest media investigation yesterday further demonstrated the point. It's become a joke, simply put, and Mercer puts the icing on the cake.

Canadians get the essential unfairness of partisan spending and that was made abundantly clear in the Ekos poll yesterday where to the tune of about 60%, on average across the country, they expressed disagreement with such practices.

Combine that sensibility among Canadians with job number news today: "What recovery? Canada drops 43,200 jobs as unemployment rate hits 8.6 per cent." At some point, the link between the two is going to be made. What exactly did our government do during this recession? Feather its own nest or did it make concrete improvements for Canadians? The judgment will come, but for now, it's fair to say, when Mercer is nailing it as he does, the indelible impression of Conservative pork barrel spending is going to be hard to overcome.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Interview with Elaine Lumley on gun registry

If you didn't see this interview yesterday, it's highly recommended. Elaine Lumley, a mother who lost a son to gun violence speaks about her reaction to the vote last night that is likely to see the gun registry scrapped. Very powerful.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

For the gun registry: part II

For Nathan Cullen, Dennis Bevington, Charlie Angus, Niki Ashton and Carol Hughes...Greg has a question for you which I would also address to Liberals who are similarly considering voting for the repeal of the gun registry:
We in the cities want to know why you are stabbing us in the back?
Fix it, don't end it.

Updated (8:05 p.m.) and (8:40 p.m.): Two reports tonight: "Tory MP says she's close to having support to kill gun registry;""Plan to end gun registry stirs plea from Mtl police as tragic anniversary nears." From the latter report:
With the future of the firearms registry up for a free vote Wednesday in the House of Commons, Montreal's police chief pleaded with politicians to keep it alive.

In a rare political statement issued from his police chief's office, Yvan Delorme cited a specific case where the registry may have helped Montreal officers prevent another gun rampage.
Delorme stressed that the registry was inspired by the Polytechnique massacre - and he said all the money spent to create the registry would be completely wasted if it were eliminated.

The creation of the registry has been derided as a billion-dollar boondoggle, but Delorme said killing the registry now won't recover that startup money.

"Its existence is essential, primarily for security reasons, but also because the investments already made would be entirely wasted," Delorme said.

"Yes, the registry could be improved but we consider it an important tool to minimize the risks associated with guns."

He dismissed critics who call the registry useless. Delorme described how, shortly after the 2007 Dawson College shooting, police received a report that another individual had been making similar threats.

The registry alerted officers that this person actually owned several guns - which officers seized, Delorme said.
Scott was right, this vote should be whipped.

Update II (8:40 p.m.): Maybe Liberals should be playing Harper's wedge politics more. This vote speaks to urban voters, women voters, Quebec voters. Not bad.

For the gun registry

An op-ed today from the mother of one of those killed at Ecole Polytechnique on the need to maintain the gun registry (Google translation):
The Law on Firearms is a monument erected in memory of victims of the massacre at the Ecole Polytechnique, including my daughter, Anne-Marie Edward. I am disappointed that the Conservative Party of Canada, who claims to be the party of law and order, chooses to ignore the police, victims and the vast majority of Canadians and continue its agenda to dismantle the control of firearms.

I am disappointed that the leaders of the Liberal and NDP do not seem ready to stop them. I'm disappointed they claim that the C-391 is a draft 'bill they can not stop. The C-391 is a clear bill of government: Prime Minister, the Conservative Party and its allies have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to push the passage of this bill.
A few weeks before the 20th anniversary of that tragic day of the killings at the Polytechnique, only Gilles Duceppe remains true to his word. It is clear that the lobby Canadian firearms (like the American NRA) and the Conservatives have a lot of money to spend on marketing and advertising. I rely strongly that we will have, again, the support of opposition parties.

We need a national registry of firearms. Lives depend on it.
Travers makes this reasonable commentary on it today:
A small but potentially decisive number of opposition members are expected to protect themselves by breaking party ranks to support the Conservative private member's bill. That may save their political skins; it's not in the public interest.

Even if the registry has limited utility, it's grossly wasteful to throw away money already sunk into what Conservatives inflate as the multi-billion-dollar Liberal boondoggle. A common sense solution, particularly for a ruling party that makes so much of law-and-order and protecting family values, is a compromise balancing legitimate urban fears against rural sensibilities.
Perhaps if this bill does in fact pass, and this repeal of the gun registry follows, the sting will be a rude awakening to the opposition. Maybe a big loss like this is what's needed to more concertedly galvanize progressive forces in this country. That's about the best upside you could make out of such a loss.

One other observation, this is likely not the last of the targeted advertising campaigns against opposition members. The hulking Conservative money machine is rolling merrily along and with this success under their belt, why would they stop?

$5 - $45 million for all those action plan signs


Le Devoir reports today on the costs of the signage going up around the country to promote infrastructure spending. The signs cost between $800 - $7,000 apiece. 2,500 signs have been installed with 4,000 more on order. The total cost estimate ranges between $5 to $45 million, quite a range. If the cost is on the higher end of the spectrum, that would be fairly significant. Add that to the $56 million on other advertising that's been estimated for January to June, extrapolate for the last six months of this year (another $50?) and throw in the cost of these signs...could we be in the rarefied neighbourhood of $150 million on advertising for the action plan?

So the instance Wayne Easter cited a few weeks back, of a sign going up in front of the Charlottetown RCMP detachment for doorknob hardware repair would probably be one where the sign cost more than the work being done. The above sign along a road in B.C. has apparently been placed there for roadwork already completed.

Your tax dollars, hard at work on all those pretty signs.