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.