Saturday, December 31, 2005

Fred at GayandRight is in agreement with John Moore (I believe it is the same John Moore who is a CFRB talk-show host) who writes in the National Post today:

A Red Tory has nothing to fear from the Conservatives except that it's clear they're as cravenly desperate for power and as intellectually bankrupt as the Liberals. Nothing makes this clearer than the promise to lower the GST. Economists appreciate why consumption taxes are superior to income taxes. But since there are probably about 10,000 economists and 30 million consumers in Canada, the promise to knock two points off the GST is a great cheap sell. Most galling is that the measure was proposed by Harper, who is an economist (. . .) Sadly, the Conservatives, unsure of their ability to attract centrists on merit, have become the political equivalent of strangers with candy.
It doesn't take an economist to determine that a simple income tax cut is not going to make much difference to the average Canadian who makes $32,000/year. It will make no difference at all to those who live at the poverty line. It won't help people who work part-time, or pensioners who are on a fixed-income. It won't help students. It won't help people who are living off a disability pension. It won't help many of us who are living paycheque to paycheque.

Think about your monthly bills -- hydro, natural gas (or heating oil), telephone, cell phone, cable tv, internet service, All of these are subject to GST. Most people, rich and poor, have to pay at least some if not all of these bills. A 5% GST would make a difference monthly. Not a huge difference if you're a Paul Martin or even a Jack Layton -- but in the course of a year -- a significant one to the vast majority of us who apparently don't matter in John Moore's world.

Conservatives historically have been seen as the party of the wealthy. This bid to make everyone's monthly bills just a tad less onerous is a welcome one. It includes even those of us who doesn't have money to save and invest.

While the NDP and Liberals claim that they are parties working for 'the people' -- their antagonism towards the only tax relief that will actually benefit all Canadians is perplexing. I have no problem with income tax cuts, and from what I understand, the Conservatives have never said the GST cut will be to the exclusion income tax cuts or any other kind of tax cut -- but why do these socialist parties who claim to represent people like me -- despise the only kind of tax cut that would benefit the people they claim to speak for -- a single parent, working two part-time jobs and struggling to make ends meet?

I also take exception to Moore's recollection of events last Spring:
My first inkling that the ground was shifting beneath our feet came last February with the tabling of Ralph Goodale's budget. Flush with money, Goodale announced a raft of radical new expenditures. My immediate reaction was, "This is hopelessly bloated." Stephen Harper's immediate reaction was, "This is a budget we can support."
Moore's blithe assertion that Harper supported the budget is just plain wrong. Harper held that this was not a budget on which he would choose to try to defeat the government. There is a vast difference between acceptance and support and Moore's failure to see the distinction detracts from the value of his arguments.

People like Moore seem to be looking for an excuse to vote Liberal -- as he calls them -- "the creeps we know" -- Unlike Moore, if I disagreed with the Conservatives significantly enough, on enough issues, I still wouldn't be marking the ballot for the party that has proved it will squander or steal public money.

It takes a fair amount of contorting to conclude that because the Conservatives have offered tax relief to poor people that they are "as cravenly desperate for power and as intellectually bankrupt as the Liberals". Moore's inability to think outside the conventional economist wisdom about consumption tax vs. income tax shows he is thinking in terms of theoretical realities -- income tax cuts might stimulate growth and investment -- but Harper's GST cut will affect real people every day.

At least Fred says Harper's tax policy would never tempt him to vote Liberal. People like Moore who would rather vote for the 'creeps' need to be honest with themselves. If they would vote Liberal because of Harper's tax policy, then they really aren't 'Red Tories' as they might to claim. They're Liberals, through and through. Short-sighted and too lazy to think.


All things come to him who waits - provided he doesn't die first

"Our veterans connect generations and Canadians. As a country and as individuals, we gain in pride and in purpose from their deeds and their service." Paul Martin

Mr. Martin's touching sentiments don't extend to connecting veterans with the money the government owes them.

The Liberal website suggests that Harper's proposed Veteran's Bill of Rights is a rip-off of a Bill C-45, which passed through the House in April:

This morning in Victoria, Conservative leader Stephen Harper announced that he would enact a Veterans’ Bill of Rights to ensure their needs are being met by the Government of Canada particularly in the area of health benefits.
This is a good idea. So good that the Liberal government did this when we brought forward a new Veterans’ Charter (Bill-C-45) in April of this year, and passed it through the House of Commons on May 10, 2005.
Mr. Harper and the Conservatives actually supported the government’s initiative at the time. Now, they are imitating it.

The government website says:

Over the years, Veterans Affairs Canada has been a world leader in providing care and support to war service veterans.

I think many Veterans would tell you otherwise (remember the accommodations provided -- at their expense --for the Remembrance Day ceremonies in Ottawa this year), but more than that, The Legion magazine talks of how the new Veteran's Charter was pushed through parliament when parliament was on the verge of collapse in the Spring, and interested parties were given only two days notice to read through the 50 - page document. There was no time for any changes or amendments. Many veterans are concerned about the wording of the bill and believe that it didn't go far enough to protect and help those with complex disabilities. The bill received all party support because to have voted against it would have been 'to vote against veterans' but the Conservatives listened to the concerns of veterans and have attempted to address them with new legislation.

The Liberal record of handling veteran's affairs is abysmal -- they nickel and dime them, just biding time until the last of them die off. And now this Liberal government, a government awash in waste -- a government so willing to misuse public money -- begrudges those who've served our country interest on funds the government was supposed to be managing for them. The 4.6 billion amounts to the cost of the gun registry, and a couple of those unauditable 'foundations' the Liberals are so fond of.

Let them appeal -- it just gives undecided Canadian voters another shining example of the Liberal propensity to say one thing, while doing the exact opposite.

canadianna 1:20 am

UPDATE: I've just read in the Toronto Sun that Cliff Chadderton is against this payout because he believes it will not benefit many veterans. He says only 100 or so are still alive and the money will end up with distant relatives etc.

I have the utmost respect for Mr. Chadderton -- and I have to agree. The government should pay the veterans who are still alive or their wives, and the balance of the money should be used to compensate other veterans who have been denied benefits for filling out the wrong papers after WWII, the Aboriginal veterans who have been virtually ignored, etc.

This money should not be a windfall for relatives of veterans. I don't know if an appeal of this award is necessary to accomplish these goals, but if so, the government should lay out it's intentions and guarantee that the amount of the judgement will be spent on veterans -- not their extended families and not more bureaucracy.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Laws don't reflect modern reality

One is out on parole, the other is a young offender. Shocking, eh?

Neither has been charged with the murder of Jane Creba, although there seems no doubt with the list of charges, that police know they were there.

According to the National Post:

(20 year old) Thompson is facing eight charges relating to Monday’s incident, including pointing a firearm and discharging a weapon “at a large group of unknown persons.” He is also charged with possession of a restricted weapon, possession of a loaded weapon, possession of a stolen weapon and violating the terms of his parole order, issued on Oct. 6. (. . .) Constable Wendy Drummond of the Toronto Police Service said Thompson has not been charged in the fatality or the other casualties. “We are still awaiting forensic tests on the weapon for that,” Const. Drummond said.
So if this guy's bullet hit someone and didn't kill them, or instead hit a wall or a window, he could pretty much get a pass.

The police can only charge them with what's on the books -- but 'discharging a weapon at a large group of unknown persons' is really a charge? Like if the group were smaller, or he knew them, it would be okay?

And if you participate in a gun-battle on a main street, and someone dies -- does it matter if your bullet is the one who struck the victim? Shouldn't all of them be charged with murder if their actions led to her death? And all of them -- regardless of aim, were shooting on a crowded street -- so all of their actions led to her death.

And what of the victims who didn't die? One is still in 'critical condition' -- so modern medicine is able to save this person, and the charge will likely be a less serious 'attempted murder' or some sort of assault with a weapon --- but the intent to kill, or the disregard for this person's life by the gunmen, should not be mitigated by the victim's survival -- the recovery of those who were shot, shouldn't reward the gunmen with lesser charges.

The laws on murder need to be rethought. It shouldn't matter that by luck or through medical intervention, a gun you've discharged doesn't end up killing a person. The death is secondary to the intent or the disregard for human life when it comes to charging and punishing the accused. If the police can prove through ballistics that these men were there and were shooters, should they be any less culpable because their bullets weren't fatal?

Modern medicine has made it so that many who once would have, won't die of injuries inflicted by would-be murderers. Modern weaponry has made it such that the discharging of a weapon can do incredible amounts of damage and can never be excused as accidental, and deaths that result from the discharging of these weapons can never be dismissed as unforseen, or unintentional.

It's time the law caught up.


Scandal saturation point

I understand the Income Trust thing in the limited way that people without financial or mathematical acumen do. I get that a significant amount of trading occurred which it appears may have benefited a select few people who had early information.

Maybe the masses are not seething at the possibility of yet another Liberal scandal because Liberal scandals are never easy. They are complicated, dealing with secret information, a legion of characters with connections and relationship that are difficult to keep track of, and they deal with money in sums incomprehensible to someone who makes under $30,000/year (which most means most Canadians).

Theft, deception and incompetence on the scale the Liberals have managed to achieve is wearying. That's how it works -- the Liberals succeed by wearing people down.

While I don't believe Ralph Goodale was directly responsible for any leak that may have occurred, it is amazing how two successive Liberal Finance Ministers have been oblivious to either overt wrong-doing, or careless negligence, carried out by people within their scope of scrutiny.

If Goodale passes this test with the public, the Liberals have a good chance of pulling this election out of the fire. Given that the investigation will continue beyond the election, he remains an innocent, though slightly accused man. That might be good enough for some to continue to shrug and say 'what's the big deal'.

M.K. Braaten writes about tonight's CTV news coverage, saying that it doesn't look good for the Liberals. I'm trying to share his optimism.

Hopefully, scandal-wearied Canadians will be listening as this continues to unfold but I fear we're approaching scandal-fatigue.


Thursday, December 29, 2005

Root-excuses for gangs and guns

"If there was any silver lining in this it could be that maybe white middle-class people would care more about the risks that are out there for other members of our community." U of T criminologist, Mariana Valverde in today's Toronto Sun.
"Yesterday's shootings in Toronto serve as a painful reminder that we cannot take our peace or our understanding for granted. I think more than anything else, they demonstrate what are in fact the consequences of exclusion. I was in Toronto not long ago and met with a number of members of communities in the Jane and Finch area . . . and the young people talked to me about the void in their lives, and what hopelessness and exclusion can bring." Paul Martin, Liberal leader

First -- there is no silver lining. There can be no silver lining in the death of young girl at the hands of vicious, souless thugs. Sentencing reform could have come without her death . . . should have come without her death -- things never should have been allowed to get this far. The only deterrent to this kind of crime is to lock them up and throw away the key. Maybe if criminals knew they'd never get out, EVER again -- maybe they'd think twice. Prison time must be punitive. We know all that without the death of an innocent child.

Unlike Ms Valverde and our Prime Minister, I thought the violence downtown on boxing day was the act of criminals who realised that because of their age, or who through experience with a lack of serious penalties (should they ever be caught), had no compunction about choosing murder as the answer to their grievances. It never occurred to me that it was our fault because we don't care and we have created a dark void into which excluded people fall, helpless to prevent themselves from pulling guns on crowded streets and killing innocent people.

Forgive me if I don't care when young men with guns, shoot other young men with guns. My only concern has ever been the innocents who might be caught in the cross-fire.

Ms Valverde suggests we (white, middle-class suburbanites) will 'care more' now that this has come to one of our own. Like this is something new.

Remember these names? In 1983 Barbara Turnbull was shot and paralysed in a convenience store robbery in Mississauga; 23 year old Vivi Leimonis was murdered 1994 in a botched robbery at Just Desserts in Toronto; in 2004, Louise Russo was paralysed in a drive-by shooting at a sandwich shop in North York, and now Jane Creba. There are others, but I remember these few names because they are women whose ages were similar to mine at the times of the events, and now with the last one, I have a fifteen year old daughter.

People already care -- but don't expect us to shed tears for the thugs who become 'victims' of a street life they have a part in shaping and maintaining.

Unlike the elites, it didn't take this murder for us to know things are out of hand. We see the violence as already affecting us -- even when they aren't killing our kids. It's just that unlike those who comment from ivory towers, we have no warm and fuzzy illusions about after school programmes being more than just another place for a drug deal. We have no grand visions of violent criminals flushing their drugs, handing over their guns and getting jobs at the Zellers or Canadian Tire.

I don't believe in warm and snuggly social programs -- I believe in punitive justice as a deterrent to violent crime.
I don't believe a kid who knows he can make $3,000 a week selling crack or meth, is going to become a model citizen because of a work co-op programme.

I don't believe that 'children' who are 15, 16 or 17 should be shielded by their age, from the real consequences for the violent crimes they commit because of a law designed to protect kids who swipe a pack of gum.
I don't believe violent criminals will grow a soul if they go to anger management or other useless therapy programs.
I don't believe in rehabilitation -- I believe in retribution.
I don't believe in collective guilt -- I believe in personal responsibility.

Ms Valverde and Mr. Martin are laying the blame for violent crime at the feet of the average person. I'm not biting.

People who behave in a violent, anti-social manner should be excluded from society. But they should be excluded through incarceration in jail where they belong. Maybe then they wouldn't have a chance to influence the little ones in their communities for whom there is still hope. Maybe if they were kept in jail where they belong, those who come up behind them might realise that crime doesn't pay, that there are consequences for every action. And even if locking them up and throwing away the key does nothing to deter even one other criminal -- at least the criminal who is locked up will be out of our midst and unable to cause harm to society again.

Mr. Martin can blame poverty, hopelessness etc. He can give all the root-causes he wants -- but that is a major insult to all those who live in low-income, high-crime areas and who manage to instill values in their children. It is an insult to all the poor people who realise that poverty is just the state of your bank account, and that the measure of your character is where you create your riches. These people need the government to back them up. They need to be able to say to their kids 'no excuses'. Instead we have staged sympathy, wrong-headed solutions (hand-gun ban), collective guilt and governmental inertia when it comes to violent crime.

The criminal sucks the hope and potential from children in tough neighbourhoods -- and the government ensures the hope remains extinguished by doing nothing to remove the criminal element from their midst. What good will it do to get tough on handguns, if they don't get tough on the people who use them? Good people in poor communities want the criminal element locked away. Only when these gangster role models are gone, can the kids within these communities see past the gang culture to a positive future. At-risk youth are most at risk from the influence and the crimes of the criminals in their own neighbourhoods.


Update: I was thinking about other people -- innocent people -- who've been victims of gun crime and gang violence recently -- 11 year old Tamara Carter, riding a TTC bus with her mother in November 2004 -- shot in the face. In October of this year a TTC bus driver was shot and critically injured.
There are still more. How quickly we forget -- and that's the problem. They go out of the newspapers, out of our thoughts until the next time. And that's why it's so easy for the government to ramp up the rhetoric when something like this happens and to drop it down and ignore it when the current tempest has passed.
People are suggesting that the reaction to this was because this was a young white girl. We didn't know who she was until last night. What we did know, was that she was shopping with her family, not carrying a gun, not a part of the gang culture -- not a part of the problem. That's what caused the reaction. It isn't racism that makes us sit up and take notice now -- we've taken notice every time -- but this time, there is an election campaign on and maybe our outrage will be heard.


Monday, December 26, 2005

Losing Christmas

My son had a holiday concert at school on Friday. It wasn't a Christmas concert -- and I have no problem with that, because it's true. All of my kids go to very multicultural schools. Most of the kids at the schools are Muslim, with minorities who are Hindi and Christian, and an even larger minority have no religion. Having a Christmas concert would be unrealistic and would be pandering to a vocal minority of parents who resent the cultural changes our society is still adapting to.

Other years, presentations have been done to explain Eid or Ramadan, Chanukah, Diwali, Kwanzaa etc. and the presentations about Christmas have all been to explain 'Santa Claus'. The Christmas songs are of the 'Frosty the Snowman' genre. All of the other religions are portrayed with reverence and while the Christmas one is usually fun, there is no explanation of the underlying reason for the season. This has always bothered me, but I'm not the sort to make a fuss, so I've said nothing.

This year it was different. This year they acknowledged the Christian aspect of Christmas with a raucous, loud, hip-hop rendition of 'Silent Night' because the real song is 'boring.' I've found the same thing with television -- some kids shows have taken Christmas hymns and put funny lyrics to them -- the Arthur Christmas special did this several times, having one of the younger characters not know or misunderstand the words of 'We Three Kings' and 'The First Nowell' and sing something entirely off base.

The fact is, I'd rather the school have ignored the traditional carol rather than bastardize it. For those of us who celebrate the birth of Christ, the traditional carols are not boring. It isn't that I don't have a sense of humour. Unlike "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" and "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" etc. hymns are songs of worship and I resent their being abused by the secular establishment for a laugh. The message the school conveyed by using this hymn was that traditional Christian worship is a drag and that it needs real world influence to make it worthwhile.

I have adapted to the secular culture. I don't say Merry Christmas unless I know I am speaking to Christians. I don't expect a Christmas concert at the public school when I have a church around the corner. I don't expect religious music when I'm shopping at the mall.

But I also don't expect to hear sacred Christmas hymns with their words changed for a laugh (as was done in 'Arthur's Perfect Christmas'), or the music 'updated' to suit a contemporary audience as was done at my son's Christmas concert.

Silent Night is the quintessential Christmas carol because of its simplicity. It doesn't require rapification to make it relevant. It is relevant because its sweet melody is like a lullaby and its words are welcoming the birth of the Christ child. A hip-hop score might be fine to liven up 'Blue Christmas' or 'Winter Wonderland' but it isn't appropriate for a sacred hymn.

We don't lose Christmas when the secular world celebrates along side us with its Santa Claus, its Star Wars and Dale Earnhardt holiday tree decorations, its 31 day advent calendars that celebrate the coming of the new year, we don't lose Christmas when the secular world ignores the birth of Christ in its 'holiday' festivities -- but we risk losing Christmas if we do nothing when the secular world appropriates the sacred songs and symbols of Christianity and holds them up to ridicule and scorn.

I will be writing a letter to my son's Principal and asking that future winter festivals exclude mention of Christ, unless they handle it with the same respect and dignity afforded the other religions represented. Better excluded than distorted in parody.

Anyway, Merry Christmas all.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Two tier democracy

Paul Martin says we must have higher expectations of our PM than we do of our MPs. The Prime Minister must not contravene the Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- but individual MPs are welcome to their own 'vision'.

It's funny, but he didn't think all of his MPs were entitled to their own 'vision' when he imposed his vision on Cabinet Ministers and made them vote with him on same-sex marriage under threat of expulsion.

That the same-sex marriage issue has exposed the 'bigoted', 'ignorant', 'regressive' opinions of individual MPs who represent the Liberal Party, doesn't phase Mr. Martin. Their rejection of the 'Charter' is not a worry to him because only HE is obligated to uphold the Charter -- but then, if Mr. Martin accepts candidates who believe that certain Canadians are not entitled to Charter protection -- is he really defending the Charter? It would appear that in his rush to vilify Mr. Harper, Mr. Martin has illuminated the dark secret of the Liberal Party -- some Canadians who are represented by Liberals, are represented by people who would not stand up for their 'Charter rights.'

From the Toronto Star:

Last spring, 34 Liberal MPs voted for a Conservative motion that would have halted Liberal legislation to extend marriage rights to gays and lesbians. Martin brushed aside the apparent contradiction, saying, "The issue is not what does an individual MP say — an individual MP is entitled to his or her vision. "The issue is what is the role and responsibility of the prime minister of the country. And the role of the prime minister of the country is to support the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and it is not in any way, shape or form to call the Charter into doubt, that's the fundamental difference."

The inconsistency of his position seems to be lost on Martin. Apparently, he doesn't understand that in this twisted view of the world, he would actually be 'defending the Charter' from his own MPs. And if these men and women are against fundamental Charter rights for a segment of the population -- then how does he justify allowing them to serve under his party's banner?

Could it be that Martin knows in his heart that the issue of same-sex marriage -- far from being a Charter issue -- is actually a legislative issue. His assertion that same-sex marriage is a Charter right goes out the window with his acceptance of any members of his caucus voting against it. A right is a right, and if Martin truly believed that gay marriage was a 'right' he couldn't allow dissent on the issue.

Martin has proved this weekend that he doesn't even believe what he says on the same-sex issue, but it provides him with the ammunition to call Stephen Harper all sorts of names: 'unfit' 'regressive' and to spout off about 'rights' as though if it weren't for Liberals, Canadians would have none at all.

Charter rights, are 'human rights' and cannot be a matter of opinion. They can't by opted out of by churches on the basis of religious freedom, they can't be opted out of by MPs on the basis of freedom of conscience. Charter rights are rights about which there can be no choice. The either exist or they don't -- an individual's 'vision' doesn't come into it.

Mr. Martin has proved he knows this -- and yet he still wields his sword of disingenuous piety. Martin is a man without principles. His stand on this issue stretches credulity -- and yet he had the effrontery to suggest Stephen Harper was unfit for the PMO.

Martin's views are offensive to those on both sides of the issue and his lack of a core belief system is scary when put in conjunction with the enormous amount of power concentrated in the Prime Minister's Office.


Sunday, December 18, 2005

Paul Martin's actions don't match the yatter

As Paul Martin dons the cloak of self-righteousness and proclaims himself the champion of the Charter and of 'rights' in general in Canada -- he might want to re-think the validity of his position.

Martin has suggested that Stephen Harper is not fit for the PM's Office because he will re-introduce the same-sex marriage issue to the House and allow a free-vote.

If Harper is not fit to be Prime Minister due to his stand on this issue, what about the Liberal MPs who voted against same-sex marriage? (And who would likely welcome the opportunity to do so again in a truly free vote?) MPs like John McKay, who as a Parliamentary Secretary, asked for, and obtained from the PMO, a special dispensation to vote against Cabinet and against same-sex marriage? If same-sex marriage is a Charter right -- why did Martin allow any members of his party to vote against it? Was it because he knew he had the numbers, so it didn't matter? If it's a right -- a Charter right-- it matters.

Over the past quarter century (maybe longer) the Liberals have managed to convince the Canadian public that there is only one right view on many subjects -- the Constitution/Charter, bilingualism, health care, immigration, and same-sex issues among them.

What Paul Martin has made clear in his diatribe against Harper, is that his view of the nation and its future is so narrow as to only include those who subscribe to a collectivist Liberal-defined (John Duffy-defined?) vision.

The Prime Minister of Canada has proclaimed Stephen Harper unfit to lead the country because he holds an opposing view on what Martin, by his actions, has proved he knows to be a morality or legal-rights issue -- not a Charter, or human rights issue.

When Martin says that same-sex marriage is a Charter issue -- he is saying that any opposition to it is unConstitutional. You can't 'cherry pick' Charter rights, right? Which means the vote in the House was moot anyway -- the decision was already there in the Charter and Parliament was simply affirming it.

But if that's the case, if same-sex marriage is a Charter right, then it was a Charter right prior to the vote -- then what of the Liberal dissenters? How does he allow them to run again when they have voted against the Charter rights of their fellow Canadians? Or, is only the Prime Minister obligated to defend the Charter and not his members? But how does a man defend the Charter, when members of his own party continue to believe and act in a manner that goes against the Charter?

Either same-sex marriage is a right, and it is unconscionable to support the candidacy of anyone who would vote against it -- or it is a legal issue to be decided by parliament. Paul Martin is trying to have it both ways by imposing a one-dimensional Liberal-framed vision of what constitute rights and what is wrong.

Even if you are for gay marriage -- Paul Martin's impassioned 'Charter hero' rhetoric doesn't stand up to scrutiny. He shouldn't be given a pass on the inconsistency between his actions and his words.


Saturday, December 17, 2005

Polite society and a woman's place

If you can't stand the heat . . .

I love argument, I love debate. I don't expect anyone just to sit there and
agree with me, that's not their job. --
Margaret Thatcher

During tonight's debate, in response to a question about the lack of civility in the House of Commons, Jack Layton and Paul Martin concurred that if you want parliament to be more civilised, the answer is to elect more women.

Maybe we could make Question Period one big coffee klatch. We could all bring our knitting, and when things are going bad we'll share cheesecake or ice cream and when we're done for the day we can do the group hug thing. We could discuss movies or books instead of politics, because in politics people disagree and that would be mean. We can't have mean. No, not with ladies present. --What a shockingly sexist attitude.

Some of the nicest people I've ever met were men and many of the nastiest were women. Rude comes in both genders and is irrelevant to an ability to govern. Polite people would elevate the tone of the house -- not just polite women.

Paul Martin actually suggested that women he's met have said to him that they would consider running for politics except for the behaviour in the House of Commons at Question Period.

Most women I've seen in action in the House could hold their own -- and anyone who can't doesn't deserve to be there. Diane Albonzy, Rona Ambrose, Sheila Copps, Elsie Wayne, Libby Davies, Deborah Grey, and even Carolyn Parrish -- strong women have served this country without fretting over the verbal sparring that occurs when the government has to face its critics during QP.

Too many people have a misguided notion of what QP is all about. It's all theatrics. The questions are submitted ahead of time and the answers are well-scripted by research teams. It's raucous and generally unproductive -- but it isn't what 'makes this government work'. All the work is done behind the scenes in committees etc.

The suggestion that women would elevate the tone might have been an attempt at flattery, but it reeks of paternalism and condescension. It stereotypes woman as gracious and sweet -- virtues yes, but hardly universal to the gender and the implication by two political leaders, that these qualities are exclusive to women and might somehow transform the workings of the House, does a great disservice to the gentlemen and strong women who already participate in the governance of this country and manage to do so with good manners.

The most shocking thing about this, is that while Jack Layton and his members do seem to try to maintain dignity and decorum in the House, the most vilely offensive comments most often come from the Liberal side -- and more often than not they are directed at women on the Conservative side.

Women, though perfectly capable of all aspects of governing -- are not the answer to changing the timbre of the House. If we want members of parliament to be respectful to one another, they must first be respectable. With our current governing party, this is not the case.

Scott Brison for one, has proved to be as uncivilised out in the real world as he is in the House. It isn't a matter of gender, it's about manners. I'd much prefer the antics during question period to having a sitting MP tell a member of his constituency that she could kiss his ass. Politics is a dirty game but it's this sort of trash talk outside of the House the Liberals should be worried about -- and if he's so concerned about the sensibilities of women -- why has Martin remained quiet about this ignorant remark made to a woman by one of his Cabinet Ministers? Why has there been no apology forthcoming?

And while we're at it, why was it a woman (Jean Augustine) who was asked to step aside in favour of Michael Ignatieff?

Women don't need a patronising attitude from two liberal political leaders in order to be confident about our abilities to serve in government -- we need to be given strong roles where our voices will be heard. The NDP, the Bloc and the Conservatives all realise this and have given women significant and prominent roles. Of all the parties, the one severely lacking in that department is the Liberal Party.

More talk, less action -- the Liberal way of governing.


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Is Martin really standing up for Canada?

Even conservative bloggers had difficulty with the US envoy's speech to the Canadian Club, most believing that he hovered very close to the line of interfering with an election. Some even believe Watkins' remarks will do the Liberals more good than harm, because Martin is seen as standing up to the US, playing into the anti-American sentiments that seem to surge at election time.

In response to the rebuke, Paul Martin says:
"I will defend Canada -- period. I will defend the Canadian position, and I will defend our values, and I will defend our interests against anybody."
But he's not defending Canada. He's defending himself -- and what's more, he's defending himself with yet another lie.

Martin is trying to pretend that the envoy was calling him out for talking about the softwood lumber issue:
He (Martin) acknowledged he has been critical on two issues -- the U.S. refusal to accept a panel decision in favour of Canada in the softwood-lumber dispute, and the Americans' foot-dragging on climate control. However, he denied he's raising the issues to score political points.
"The position that I have taken on softwood lumber -- that the Americans ought to honour their agreement [in the Free Trade Agreement] -- is a position that I took, that I have taken for some time, long before any election campaign was contemplated."
Now, please correct me if I'm wrong -- but since the beginning of the election campaign, I haven't heard Paul Martin mention softwood lumber -- not until now. And now it is only being brought up to deflect from the fact that last week he very publically insulted the US on the global stage at the UN conference on global climate change.

Not once after the PM's quote in this news article, nor in any other coverage I've read, does the reporter make his/her way back to the point that Martin's speech on the US environmental record created this animus in the first place. They just let him blither on about softwood lumber as though it had something to do with anything.

None of the quotes I've seen from Wilkins' speech even contain the words: softwood lumber. Wilkins made no defense of the US's actions or stands on this -- but he vigorously pumped their environmental record compared to ours. But Martin's comments to the media in response to this speech shows he is trying to dodge the bullet. He's pretending that Wilkins' remarks to the Canadian Club were in response to something Martin might have said back in October about softwood lumber -- and much of the media coverage has just let that slip by as though it were true.

Surprisingly, the Globe & Mail editoral makes the point well.

The US envoy has no place in our politics, but Martin doesn't deserve a pass for the very public ripping he gave them last week. He used innuendo, lies and evasion to promote a negative image of the US on the world stage. It might get him the votes he wanted, but it has also drawn negative attention from the US -- not just government, but the public as well. That's hardly the way to defend Canada's interests.

If Paul Martin is going to defend Canada's interests, who is going to defend our interests from him?


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

2 + 2 = whatever liberals say it does

Today in the NP (subscriber only) John Duffy (beer & popcorn co-believer) enlightens readers by 'decoding' Stephen Harper.

Apparently, there are 'carefully constructed' secret phrases all of us right-wingers use to send out coded messages to those who are 'us' -- all the while sending 'reassuring signals' to 'them' (those poor sods who didn't get that special decoder ring in their box of ammo.)

I won't worry about copyright. I'm almost certain Duffy would want to get his message out, lest we all fall for Stephen Harper's cryptic verbal cyphers:

Mr. Harper says: On child care, I will give parents a choice.
He means: I will immediately dismantle the Liberal national child-care program, which is flowing billions of dollars somewhere (who really knows where, after all this is the Liberals we're talking about. Daycare programmes are provincial jurisdiction so the money the Liberals are sending could go to build daycare centres or it could be going to create jobs for bureaucrats who are friends of Liberals or maybe it's going to be stuffed into plain brown envelopes and left on restaurant tables, or perhaps it'll go to buy beer and popcorn).

Mr. Harper says: I will have a free vote in parliament on same-sex marriage.
Mr. Harper means: I know, free is a word that successive Liberal governments have tried to expunge from the memories of Canadians. What I mean, is that each member of parliament will be allowed to vote his or her conscience. Conscience is another word that kind of got messed up under the Liberals. Anyway, a free vote gives legitimacy to which ever side wins the vote. If same-sex marriage wins, then opponents won't be able to say the vote was illegit. If the traditional definition of marriage were to win, we'd have to see. By the way, the 'notwithstanding clause' is not scary. It is a legitimate tool of our Constitution -- or else, why did the Liberals (who were in power during the drafting of the Constitution) allow it to be put there?

Mr. Harper says: On abortion rights, my party defeated a resolution to strike them down.
Mr. Harper means: My party has a policy on abortion -- even though many of our members are personally against abortion on demand, our policy states that the issue won't be visited by us when we form a government. We allow differing opinions within our party, but we realise there are some we can't act upon. A quick search of the Liberal website says they have no such policy. Why aren't Canadian women terrified?

Mr. Harper says: I will cut the GST by 2%; you deserve a break.
Mr. Harper means: Tax cuts of all sorts are a conservative idea. You know, lower taxes, small government. Remember, a surplus is only a good thing when it comes to your family's budget -- not the government's.

Mr. Harper says: I will get tough on polluters.
Mr. Harper means: The Liberals believe that treaties and speeches are good for the environment. Since signing Kyoto, Canadian greenhouse gas emissions have gone up 24% over 1990 levels – that’s 30% above target. (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change report entitled Key GHG Data) Apparently Mr. Martin's hot air isn't working.

Mr. Harper says: My priority is tougher enforcement against criminals.
Mr. Harper means: I won't confiscate the legally owned, legally used property of Canadians, because I believe in property rights. The gun registry hasn't prevented 50 gun murders in Toronto this year, but it has cost a couple of billion dollars. Call me anything but Liberal, but I don't think that's value for the money.

Mr. Harper says: It is the responsibility of a prime minister of any party to have good relations with the US.

Mr. Harper means: Paul Martin is an idiot. You don't tick off your closest trading partner in order to score cheap political points in an election. Whether you like George Bush or not, the US is going to be next door for a long time after him, and after the Liberals are out of power. It's irresponsible to consistently antagonise an ally to try to provoke a fear response in your electorate. You can respectfully disagree on issues. Not all arguments have to be about creating fear and putting other people down. If you want to work with another nation on trade, it isn't good business or politics to spread innuendo and lies.

Okay, maybe this isn't exactly what John Duffy wrote, but if you have your decoder ring handy, you'll know what he meant.


Monday, December 12, 2005

Diversionary attack

I got this from, but since it's a CP story, you'll find it anywhere, likely with the same mis-information. It's Martin trying to divert attention from Scott Reid/Income Trusts/anti-American environmental statements/handgun banning (take your pick) and put some heat onto Harper about the same-sex marriage thing:
However, Martin notes the law allowing same sex marriages in Canada cannot be reversed without using the notwithstanding clause.

Harper has been fairly quiet about his plans to repeal the same-sex marriage legislation since he was asked about it at the beginning of the campaign for the Jan. 23 election, and said a Conservative government would put an end to the practice. (emphasis mine)
Martin's scaremongering is vile, but typical. The media mis-information is also typical, but I find it much more disturbing.


Why do Liberals hate Canadians?

When Scott Reid suggested that Canadian parents would use Stephen Harper's Choice in Child Care Credit to buy popcorn and beer, he was not using the wrong words to make his point about Harper's promise -- he was making a point about what he thinks of us.

It's no wonder the Liberals fear democracy -- they loathe Canadians.

They pander to us, bribe us, scare us in to submission -- all because they don't trust us to make decisions about our own money, about our families, about our society, or even about our use of words.

They close off any avenue by which people might express an opinion contrary to the Liberal way -- and they do so by demonizing any opposition to their way of thought as un-Canadian. I used to think this was just a lust for power and control, but I've come to realise that the thought process of the Liberal Party was apparent in Scott Reid's unguarded comment. He is representative of the Party because the Liberals have demonstrated through their manner of governance that Liberals have no respect for the people they govern. From election gag laws to hate speech laws, the Liberals have proved that they don't trust the average Canadian to exercise 'proper' judgement even in areas where the government really has no place.

And now, rather than allowing us to exercise our own judgement about the care of our children, they accuse us of preferring to squander money on trivialities.

An apology is not enough. Scott Reid could have said: car payments, mortgage payments, snowsuits, winter boots, dental visits, piano lessons, heating bills, putting gas in the car . . . He might have used any example of not using the money for daycare, in order to suggest that the money in the Conservative plan might not be used by parents to pay for child care -- he chose to say 'beer and popcorn' because this flippant, off-the cuff comment is precisely what he and his party really think of us.


Friday, December 09, 2005

Announcement or Campaign Promise -- There is a Difference

Read these two quotes, keeping in mind that although Paul Martin is still Prime Minister, the government has been dissolved and we are in the midst of a hotly contested election campaign.

Audio Link: "That's why I'm here today on behalf of the people of Toronto, to thank the Prime Minister for his announcement and to thank the Attorney General for his announcement, because today's announcement will start getting those guns off the streets of Toronto (...) Mr. Prime Minister I could not think of a more important announcement for the people of Toronto than the banning of handguns, and I want to thank you for your leadership."
-- David Miller, Mayor of Toronto

Audio link: "Prime Minister, a handgun ban, you can count Ontario in! (...) Ontario supports a handgun ban and will work with the federal government to implement a handgun ban. . . and now with this information we will have the opportunity to have additional RCMP Officers to boost our law enforcement arsenal" --Michael Bryant, Attorney General of Ontario

The Prime Minister's promise to ban handguns is nothing compared the audacity of our Mayor and the Ontario Attorney General. They flanked Martin yesterday during his 'announcement' and did not simply endorse any old election promise, but rather, they welcomed the information -- and in the case of Miller -- did so on my behalf!!

The statements of Miller and Bryant are irresponsible. Given the staging of yesterday's event, an observer might be forgiven for believing that Paul Martin had the power to enact a handgun ban effective immediately by proclamation.

David Miller and Michael Bryant have overstepped their positions, not simply by endorsing a party and a candidate for Prime Minister -- but by attending a campaign speech in their respective roles of Mayor and Attorney General, and pretending a campaign promise is a major announcement of actual legislation.


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Where have you been, lo these many years?

The way Paul Martin talks, you'd think that gun violence was a new phenomenon and that he was moving quickly to quell it before it got out of hand.

Newsflash, Mr. Prime Minister -- gun violence in Toronto is entrenched in the culture -- why? Because for years, the Liberal governments who might have done something to prevent its escalation, ignored it.

There is more to gun violence than guns. It's that simple. People who don't value human life, or who believe their needs trump the rights of another person to live -- these people will continue to exist and kill regardless of whether they can get a hand gun to do it. Does Mr. Martin think the criminals are going to come in and hand over their guns any faster than they 'registered' them?

The breakdown of families and core family values are far more important detering violence than banning a gun will ever be. Lynda Hurst wrote about this in the Toronto Star on the weekend and it's worth the read.

Today Martin announced tougher sentencing, great, but where have they been the past twelve years? If they were really serious, this would have been a preventive measure, rather than an attempt to stem the flow of blood on Toronto's streets. Besides, the Tories have already promised tougher sentences and given the track record of the Liberals, it's the Conservatives I would trust to follow through.

The Liberal Party is the party of the 'Faint Hope Clause', and the ineffective Young Offenders Act (since replaced by the Youth Criminal Justice Act -- also ineffective.) Their stance on crime seems to have been 'if we ignore it, maybe it will go away' and now suddenly, after playing ignorant for all this time -- they come riding into town, platitudes ablazin' and they're going to get tough on crime --as though it's someone else's fault that things have become this bad.

Maybe it's because so few Liberals live in the real world. They are beyond street crime, because their lives never meet the street. Their experience with our daily reality, ends when they close the newspaper. They don't fear drive by shootings or stray bullets in school yards. They don't fear letting their kids walk places, or travel alone because of perverts. They don't fear walking home from a bus stop after dark -- they will never be in circumstances where these kinds of things are issues.

Take away all the handguns. Drop them in the ocean. Is Toronto going to be any safer?

Gun violence is only one of the many life-destroying crimes that plague this country. What makes a society safe is the knowledge that our governing members refuse to accept certain behaviours. As a society, we have to show our intolerance for child molesters, murderers and other villains by locking them up and throwing away the key. A Liberal government will never do that.

Successive Liberal governments have shown their empathy lies with criminals, rather than victims. Whatever solutions they propose to combat crime are irrelevant -- because they are part of the problem.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Daycare -- Univeral access and shifting expectations

In short, this program (universal child care) is here to stay – because it’s right for Canadian families, and it’s right for our children. (. . .) Government supported child care means that your children will go to regulated facilities that are safe, secure and inspected. It means that your children will be cared for by people who are properly trained. -- Paul Martin

At the inception of our universal health care system, the idea was that the government would be obligated to pay for the health services of citizens. It has evolved to the point where citizens are obligated to accept the health care services of the state.

We live in a country where most people believe it is 'unfair' for an individual to pay for his own medical treatment.

Under the Liberal plan, how long will it be before the obligation is no longer on the government to provide state run daycare -- but on a parent to accept it?

It means that your children will be cared for by people who are properly trained.

Read those words carefully and remember that just this summer, Ken Dryden said that parents and family members:

(could be trained) "so long as the end result is something that meets the standards of regulation and meets the standards of the QUAD [quality, universality, accessibility, developmental] principles."

Who's scary?


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The subtlety of media bias

There are columnists who blatently bare their political souls, but many people reject the idea that media in general is inherently biased in favour of the Liberals.

In their Decision Canada pages in the National Post, an article by Mark Kennedy displays the back-handed derision displayed by many in the media when writing on Martin and Harper. The article itself seems neutral -- it's simply pointing out that Harper is making his agenda clear, quickly --in order to avoid a repeat of the last election when he allowed Martin to define him. The following quote is a betrayer of the underlying sentiments of the author, and in my opinion, makes characterizations that are unsupported and unsupportable:
Plagued with how the sponsership scandal has tarnished the Liberal brand, it appears Mr. Martin hopes to run on his own leadership traits of honesty and good intentions. All the while, he's praying for Mr. Harper's hubris to be his undoing.

This is written as though the statements are facts that everyone takes for granted -- and maybe that's why so many people do.


Why doesn't Paul trust us?

Paul Martin has done nothing to earn my trust, and yet he wants me to trust him to create a childcare program that is so all encompassing that it will be on a par with medicare in terms of scope and breadth. Part of our 'social fabric' he calls it.

He says that like medicare -- childcare is a 'public right'.

Excuse me?

What about the right to raise your own children?

Not possible in many cases, you say? Families can't afford it?
Well, instead of making 'daycare' a universal 'right' -- why not create the circumstances where families can decide for themselves whether they want to be the primary caregivers to their own children?

We all know what a mess health care is in, right across the country -- costs are high, services are insufficient and delays are the norm . . . and yet Mr. Martin wants us to have faith that he and his government will serve our children adequately in early child care and early childhood education.

The GST lie, the free trade lie, the Sea King debacle, HRDC billion dollar foul up, the Gun Registry, the 1995 referendum (precursor of the sponsorship scandal), and the Radwanski, and the Dingwall affairs -- to name a few -- are all examples of the way Liberals do business -- and we're supposed to trust them with our kids?

Why doesn't Mr. Martin trust us to raise our own children? His urgency to commit more (but still insufficient) money to his universal daycare scheme in the wake of Harper's announcement -- says that Martin and the liberal elites in this country are trying to create an environment where there is no choice --- where daycare is not the norm -- but the ideal.

Why is it so hard for him to understand, that if money were no object (as is the case in his world) that many families who rely on daycare would prefer to have one parent stay at home?

Daycare is not a right. It should be choice. In Paul Martin's Canada -- it's a choice the government wants to make for us.


Saturday, December 03, 2005

The problem with conservatives

Conservative commentators are never happy.

They don't like the governing party -- not what they've done, not what they plan to do -- but they seem to like the Conservative Party even less.

Greg Weston of the SUN and Don Martin of the National Post, write twin columns today, suggesting that Harper's health care plan was ripped from the pages from the Liberal policy book. Their columns drip with contempt for Harper and his un-Conservative vision. They dismiss any positive reaction to Harper's announcement, and overlook the fact that even Harper-haters like Adam Vaughn of CITY TV (Toronto) are beginning to see the Conservatives as legitimate contenders in this election race.

Also in the National Post today, Andrew Coyne takes aim at Harper's plan to reduce the GST. He chastises Harper for committing to cut a consumption tax, because income tax reductions promote investment, blah, blah, blah.

It might be news to these fellows, but Harper had no choice with health care. He didn't remove the concept of private delivery -- he simply said that either the public system puts up, or people can go elsewhere and have it paid for by the public system. This works as both a safe-guard for those who need timely care, and an incentive to the public system to work to reduce wait times. In a country like Canada, where public health care is sacrosanct -- what else can he do? If it is similar to the current Liberal plan, so what? I believe that the Conservatives will work to get things moving. Shooting him down is the typical conservative media reaction to any positive step Harper makes. It's like they put their hate for the man ahead of their hopes for the future of the country. Disagree with the policy if you like -- but right now, in this country, Harper has chosen a compromise that is bound to please voters -- and isn't that the point?

As for Coyne and the GST -- First -- Harper didn't reject income tax cuts. It isn't a case of 'either this or that'. A cut in the GST in conjunction with income tax reductions is unlikely to break the bank -- not when we have massive surplusses that end up enabling the government to behave as though public money is their personal piggy-bank.

Coyne, like many of those who come from comfortable backgrounds, forgets that many of us will never be able to 'save' let alone invest. Our 'disposable income' is not disposable at all. It goes to pay our bills and to buy our kids Christmas presents and put them to lessons, or sports.

For the vast majority of us, there is nothing left to save at the end of the month, let alone to invest. Our investments, if we are fortunate enough, come in the form of buying a home for our family -- and 2% off the price of a big-ticket item like a home, or the furnishing to put in the home, or a new(er) car that won't fail emissions tests (on which we pay GST) -- that 2% is a big difference.

When you have money, it's difficult to envision being one of the lowly masses who lives paycheque to paycheque. But people like Coyne would do well to remember that there are many of us for whom a reduction of income tax really doesn't mean anything -- but a drop in the price of gas, or in the cost of a new hockey stick, or in any of the number of things that aren't exactly 'necessities' but which make life liveable -- that 2% makes a big difference to us.

When conservative commentators start to realise that it isn't just about them and their class of people -- the investor class -- the professional class -- the governing class -- then maybe they'll see that Harper seems to realise that if he wants to be the Prime Minister -- he will be the PM to all of us -- the working class, the working poor, people on welfare -- all of these people are citizens and voters too; for us, these two announcements are good news. These conservative commentators seem to be trying to take the wind out of the sails of a positive start to this campaign for Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party and it's beyond me why they'd want to do that.


Friday, December 02, 2005

Hey, Paul! I can't hear you!

Martin says Harper is silent on the the issues.

Okay -- truth is, I've been too busy to be following much election news. I've scarcely read a paper, barely scanned a few blogs, and I've hardly been around a television.

But -- since the election call, I have heard:

Harper re-stated his intention to call a free-vote on SSM
(in my opinion to prevent the 'hidden agenda' nonsense had
someone had to ask the question -- and let's be realistic here -- he's
always said he'd do this)

Harper is lowering the GST to 5% over two years. (Economically sound or not, lowering a consumer tax near Christmas is very appealing to consumers).

Harper would allow publically funded, private delivery of health services if timely treatment wasn't available. (Thank God he's finally said it.)
From Paul Martin I've heard:
That Stephen Harper is silent on the issues.
Oh, there was some other stuff about giving money to people in Cornwall to train for jobs that don't exist. Same old, same old.

Paul Martin seems more interested in talking about Stephen Harper than about any vision he has for Canada (of course, I realise the implications of that). His newest plan, rather than talking substance and policy, is to help NDPers to vote strategically to keep the Conservatives out of government.

I hope Martin continues his slams against Harper. The more Martin talks, the more obvious it becomes that this is all about power for him. He's in politics for one reason -- to be and stay PM. He has no plans, no ideas -- all he can talk about is not having a Conservative government and ways to prevent it.

In my neighbourhood (Scarborough-Guildwood) I've seen a ton of Conservative signs, but not one Liberal or NDP. I know it's early days, but it is a far different sight than 2004.
The other night, I was in a Mr. Sub and another customer was talking with the proprietor and both were counting the days till we get rid of the Liberals. These two men were vastly different ages, two different races, and very different walks of life -- but both were emphatic that they will be voting for Harper.

Martin is convinced that if he keeps saying that Harper is silent on the issues, people will believe him in the same way they chanted his 'let Gomery do his work' and 'Canadians don't want an election' mantras last spring.

Martin didn't count on Harper giving people reasons to vote for him.

No wonder Paul is pretending he can't hear.


Thursday, December 01, 2005

The 2% solution?

Funny, I thought everyone hated the GST. They hated it when the Progressive Conservatives proposed it under Mulroney. They hated it when Chretien promised not to implement it. They hated it when Martin proved the Liberals liars and imposed it.

It was accepted, grudgingly -- but everyone hated it.

I'm amazed at how many people say reducing the GST by 2% is sound politics, but bad policy. I've read where people are disputing the $400/year savings Harper says would benefit the average family and suggesting that it's a negligible, so why care.

To me, $400 is definitely not a pittance, but I'm wondering if it wouldn't be higher that $400/ family.

For example:

Every raw material that goes into building a product is GST-able. If a builder buys $100 worth of wood, it costs $107. Won't he recover the 7% he's paid in GST (on each product and service used to build the house) by incorporating it into the price of the house?

Wouldn't this 2% reduction also decrease costs for hospitals and schools--- or are they already GST exempt?

Who could find fault with an idea that would give Ottawa less of our money?


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

To Clarify -- I DO want an election

I think I should clarify something --- I do want an election -- NOW.

As much as I have been following this (and I admit, it hasn't been with the rapt attention I had during the last session of the House) I have gathered that the opposition doesn't plan to call a confidence vote -- rather they plan to suggest the government commit suicide in January.

I have to say I'm with Martin on this one -- have the guts to call a non-confidence vote and live with a Christmas election or leave it go with Martin making the call in February and live with an election date of March/April.

Yesterday's post (I want an election, but . . . )was written with the understanding that the united opposition still has no plan to call a confidence vote. They are still banking on this wishy-washy un-binding motion. I wrote my post on Thursday -- Why is a corrupt government suddenly a bad thing because I believe that closing parliament with a whimper is the weak plan of an opposition that has less confidence in its own convictions than it does in this sham of a Liberal government -- and that is pathetic.

I DO want an election -- but I want it now.

I don't understand why a Christmas date would upset so many in a secular country like ours. For those of varied religions who celebrate 'Santa Claus day' how can a Christmas election interfere with something that isn't sacred? It's like saying you don't want an election near the time of your family reunion or your wedding anniversary or your great-aunt's birthday bash -- what possible difference could it make?

I'm a practicing Christian, and I'm fine with a date around Christmas because I can walk and chew gum at the same time. I will still go to church every Sunday like always (which leaves me to wonder -- how many of the Liberal politicians complaining about it will attend a church unless there is an election on and people are watching.) I will still teach Sunday School and plan for the Christmas pageant. I will still go to my kids' schools for their 'Winter Concerts' and I will still watch Christmas specials and go shopping. If I happen to run into a politician campaigning -- I'll give him the time of day unless s/he's being obtrusive.

An election can't interfere with a religious holiday simply by existing in the same time-frame.

Those of us who are committed Christians and who are celebrating a sacred holy day will do so, and will not be bothered by an election campaign. Politicians who are committed Christians will continue with their familial and church obligations as they would any other time, and would campaign outside of church or family related celebrations.

I'm sorry I wasn't clear on this earlier. People seem to have inferred that I want to wait until Spring and I can see how it could be read that way by anyone who doesn't have unfettered access to my brain.

I DO want an election -- I want a Christmas election -- which means I want a binding non-confidence vote in which the government is unquestionable toppled.
The opposition must go big, or go home -- any attempts to circumvent a confidence vote to prevent a Christmas election are dangerous.
People want leaders that are prepared to take action -- even unpopular action.

That's my point and that's what I should have been saying all along.


Monday, November 14, 2005

I want an election, but . . .

Like many people, I'm sick of Liberal lies, excuses, utter incompetence, patronage, secrecy, scandalous indifference (to among other things-- veterans who didn't fill out the proper forms and have been unable to collect any benefits for sixty years because they are deemed 'never to have served'), and bribes (with our own money).

An election might rectify things, but I think not. I think they'll get a majority, but that's beside the point.

The 'united opposition' is trying to back Martin against a wall. They are trying to push him into making a mistake, but it's they who have blundered.

Last Spring, I wanted an election. I wanted the Liberals to be wiped off the electoral map.

I still want an election, but there is no momentum for one. The three opposition parties are trying to push a button that disappeared when the summer came.

It's mid-November. The Gomery recommendations are due out in a couple of months. An election will (likely) be called as per Martins grovel/promise.

Greg from Political Staples points to a post from Sinister Thoughts where the timeline Paul Martin has determined for an election is questioned. Should the PM follow through with his plans, it would appear an election would be held during Holy Week, and campaigning would be right through Lent.
These posts are correct when they say that to Christians, this time period is much more important than the Christmas season. Like them, I really wouldn't want an election then, but . . .

This is Paul Martin's call to make -- let him deal with the political fallout. Let him postpone an election until June in order to prevent the fallout from a Holy Week election. Let him break his promises -- but don't make it easy for him to accuse the Conservatives of impatience for power.

There is no compelling reason for the combined opposition parties to push for an election. Much as I want rid of the Liberals, all this posturing benefits them -- not the opposition parties. The Liberals are the government -- in contrast, the Conservatives, NDP and Bloc appear ineffectual and desperate. It's unbecoming.

This is another case of the Conservatives listening to bad advice. The public is not going to perceive them as heros for bringing down the government -- they are going to be seen as petty, vindictive and chomping at the bit to plant themselves on the other side of the House.

I'd like to be wrong about this, but if someone like me, who despises the current government, is frustrated by this inane attempt to force an election call -- think of those people who are not particularly warmed by any of the oppostion parties.

As I wrote in the comments at Greg's place -- The Gomery recommendations come down February 1st. Martin promised an election call within 30 days. He doesn't have to wait thirty days -- he could call it right away and an election could be held the first week of March. Ash Wednesday is February 28th so Lent would have started, but it would be the first week, and not so close to Holy Week.

When an election is so close at hand anyway, the opposition parties actions are unwarrented.

I'm disappointed that the Conservatives haven't taken a leadership role and said, as they should have, that we should wait for Mr. Martin to do the right thing and keep his promise.

If the time-frame within Martin's promise were here and past, I could see the opposition going after him like this -- but now -- it just seems stupid.


Friday, November 11, 2005

About the poppy: to the 'no disrespect intended crowd'

Via Kate at SDA: Clay McLeod writes at thetyee why he won't wear a poppy.

Clay suggests that had "the Nazis had taken over the world, we would be encouraged to celebrate that conquest on some day of observation, perhaps "honouring" the soldiers of the Fatherland and the sacrifices that they made as the Third Reich spread its "benevolent influence" over the world."

Encouraged? What a mild and innocuous word.
Does Clay really believe that we would simply be 'encouraged' to mark the victory of the Reich?

Like many other unconditional pacifists, Clay quotes a proverb to support his moral equivalency:

"Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunters."

Where this arguement falls down is that it is not just the 'hunters' (read Allies) who write history -- the lion's prey (holocaust survivors, victims of Nazi occupation, and Germans of that generation such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer) also share their stories as do the civilian internees in Japanese concentration camps. Then there are newsreels, and the meticulous records kept by the Nazis -- to suggest that history is written by the victor is ignore evidence and the eyewitness testimonials of those who suffered at the hands of the lion before he was tamed. One would expect that Clay, being a teacher, would want to explore those voices which were almost silenced by the Nazis. The people of Holland and France still commemorate and honour our soldiers' sacrifices -- but the civilians of those countries lived through war, not in the movies, not in history books -- but in the mouth of the lion. Clay can pronounce his holier-than-thou attitude from the safe and comfortable distance of thousands of miles and 60 years.

Clay says:

Let me clarify that if the purpose of Remembrance Day was to remember the suffering of almost 11 million Jewish people, Gypsy people, gays and lesbians, Jehovah's Witnesses, Polish people, Serbian people, disabled people and others who were murdered during the holocaust, I would gladly acknowledge their suffering by wearing a yellow star of David, a pink triangle, or whatever symbol was chosen to say "never again" to such atrocities.

Remembrance Day is a day set aside to honour the courageous men and women who risked their lives and died -- and who by design or by happenstance, liberated nations and races in causes that HAD NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO WITH THEM PERSONALLY. The sacrifice of the 'warrior' in the eyes of smug and self-righteous pacifists, is unworthy of commemoration because they had no way of knowing that the outcome of the war would mean the cessation of the slaughter in the concentration camps -- to Clay, these were simply soldiers acting for 'nationalistic' and 'political' reasons. In fact they were people taking action, at considerable risk to themselves, for no personal gain -- and as noble as the sentiments of a Ghandi are, thank God some people weren't courageous enough to march into the gas chambers alongside the Jews and disabled etc.

And it's remarkable that anyone could believe this:

(T)he poppy acts more as a rallying cry to support military solutions to the world's problems, instead of a heart-felt and genuine plea for an end to the suffering of war.

In fact Canada, a country that prides itself on peacekeeping and pacifism has been the only country to use the poppy as a symbol of remembrance until the past eight to ten years. Britain has recently adopted the symbol, but they don't have the tradition, and therefore there hasn't been the same success in introducing the poppy and establishing it as a symbol of remembrance.

To suggest that the poppy acts as a 'rallying cry' does a great disservice to all the Veterans who have worked tirelessly to ingrain the motto: "never again" into the minds of schoolchildren.

Clay summarizes WWI and determines that because that war had no noble cause, the veterans are not worthy of our honour. This day was set aside by the King and Prime Minister to remember those who fought and died for King and Country -- but it was observed by ordinary Canadians -- not because the cause had been noble and pure, but because the soldiers had endured such privation, such carnage, such violence at the hands of their politicians. This day was meant to remember the evil imposed on people by their governments and it has endured precisely because that is the sentiment evoked each year when the they play The Last Post and we pause for a moment of silence. Ordinary folk didn't glorify that war. They called it 'the war to end all wars' because they sincerely hoped it was. Through their intellectual posturing, it is people like Clay who MAKE the poppy a symbol of war - it never was that - -it is simply a token of remembrance for those poor sods who didn't really know why they were 'over there', but who never made it home. How sad that people like Clay need to twist it to suit their political agenda.

Clay then goes on to view WWII through the prism of WWI -- the Allies were to blame because of the strict sanctions placed on Germany after the Armistice. He doesn't see that the truth of this is irrelevant. Politicians and soldiers are different entities. We don't solemnly remember the politics of war, we remember the cost of war in the lives our our soldiers.

He synopsizes WWII as : a continuation of imperialist rivalries and nationalistic competition (. . .) Ask a Japanese Canadian who spent time in a WWII internment camp and whose family was stripped of its property whether his or her "freedom" was safeguarded by the efforts of Canada's soldiers. Ask one of Canada's indigenous people who, at the end of WWII, wasn't allowed to vote in elections as a result of his or her "Indian status" whether he or she felt free at the conclusion of WWII.

Not only is Clay applying modern sensibilities to an era that by its existence, taught us the injustice of these policies, he is confusing politics with principle and judging soldiers and veterans in place of their governments.

I don't refuse to wear a poppy to criticize the efforts of individual soldiers . . . who fought - and died - . . . believing that they defended and fought for noble goals. I respect their spirit of duty, sacrifice and dedication to causes that they saw as greater than themselves. I refrain from wearing a poppy to criticize the use of military force, at the expense of soldiers, civilians and their families, by the state - any state - in order to achieve political goals, no matter how noble. Remembrance Day usurps the sacrifices made by individuals and conscripts those sacrifices in the name of nationalism - a divisive cause that fragments the human race into pockets of "us" and "them."

It isn't the government or the military that have made the poppy the emblem of significance that it is in Canada -- it is the individual soldier. It is the Veteran. So, although Clay claims his protestations are not meant to disrespect the individual soldier, they in fact do. No one knows the horrors of war like our Vets do. You won't find a Vet who tries to glorify war -- it's the Vets who say 'never again'. Clay's insistence that the poppy is a call-to-arms for the war-monger crowd is a distortion of the message of the War Amps and the Legionnaires who are the main sources of public information for Remembrance Day.

When we remember those who were called to serve, I will wear a poppy. I won't wear it as a symbol of nationalism or in the name of some political goal -- I just want my kids to know that I remember and they should remember, those who '. . . lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, loved and were loved' -- not because their cause was noble, but because they served and sacrificed. The rightness/wrongness of the politics of their wars is not at issue on November 11. Why don't people like Clay see the distinction?

By the way Clay, despite being on the 'wrong' side of the War(s), the Germans and Japanese honour their war dead -- not to justify their national aims during the war, not to glorify their ill-treatment of enemy soldiers and civilians alike, not to revive bygone grudges -- but to remember those young men, who through no fault of their own, were caught up in their era and died on behalf of their countries.

What people like Clay don't get, is that if we turn our backs on Remembrance Day and the poppy, we allow our governments to forget the role they play in instigating and perpetrating war.

The poppy doesn't glorify war -- it is the perfect symbol of war's indifference to right and wrong / good or bad. The poppy grew over the graves of Allies and enemy alike.