Sunday, June 25, 2006

Homosexuals Turn Up the Heat on Harper Government

But may be missing the parade for the "dykes on bikes"

Believe it or not, there is a time and place for public dancing in crotchless leather pants. Believe it or not, there is a time and place for men to wear women's clothing in public. And there is even a time and place for members of the same sex to ride on floats together and kiss each other in public.

That's right, folks: it's gay pride time again.

Perhaps the most visible and recognizable tactic of those fighting for gay rights and acceptance, "freak parades" have become the centerpiece for gay pride holidays all across the world.

Some credit gay pride parades with helping advance the promotion of tolerance for gays and lesbians. Some claim these parades only increase tension between homosexuals and the rest of society. This is all entirely debatable. One thing that is certain is that gay pride parades are a commendable use of the constitutionally-entrenched right to freedom of expression that every Canadian possesses.

This year, gay pride activists in Toronto -- home to one of the largest gay pride parades in all of North America -- have mixed what some consider to be a healthy dose of politics in with their festivities, in particular taking aim at the governing Conservative party over a pledge to hold an open vote on re-opening the issue of same sex marriage for parliamentary debate.

But these activists -- while their hearts certainly seem to be in the right place -- may have their heads entirely in the wrong spot. Trying to turn homphobia into a political issue may be fair enough. But trying to turn it into a partisan political issue is simply a bad idea.

For one thing, if there is anything gay pride activists have failed to adequately address, it is homophobia among members of all Canada's political parties. For example, Mary Pollack, a former Liberal candidate for BC's Surrey riding, at one point, while serving as the Chairperson of the Surrey School Board, spent one million dollars trying to bar text books from school libraries. The books in question portrayed same-sex families in a positive manner. Courts eventually forced her to allow the books. Joe Borowski, a former Manitoba NDP cabinet minister, wrote a number of articles in the late 1980s that many people considered to be homophobic.

In other words, homophobia is not a blight that is restricted to the Conservative party. While more critics of the Conservative party take aim at them with these accusations, there has been, is, and will continue to be prevalence of this problem within Canada's other parties as well.

Another problem with the stance these people are taking regards the opinions of homophobes. " I think the message from the Prime Minister about reviewing marriage has given homophobes a feeling of power," said Kyle Rae, a co-founder of the Toronto gay pride parade. " It gives them a license."

But doesn't failing to have this debate at all give these "homophobes" (and not everyone who opposes same sex marriage can simply be dismissed as such) more power? It gives them the complaint that they are being ignored, and that homosexuals are being given preferential treatment by the government. Certainly the latter is not true, but what if the former were? It is certainly better to have the debate.

James Loney, the Canadian hostage recently freed in Iraq (who also happens to be gay himself) said, "I think Stephen Harper's intention to reopen the same-sex marriage debate is providing a forum for people to express what I think is a kind of intolerance and a very narrow view."

Loney, who, after his terrible ordeal, must have a full understanding of people with narrow views, must not think that it is also narrow to deny dissenters the opportunity to express their views. It is every bit as narrow as the bigotry that he is speaking against.

Like anyone else, homosexuals have the right to be politically active. Like anyone else, homosexuals have the right to lobby and influence their government.

But they must also recognize that even those who ignorantly hate them have these same rights, and must be allowed the same opportunities to do so. Most importantly, they must recognize that homophobia is not a partisan political issue.

When they do this, the time when they can wear their crotchless leather pants in public everyday will be that much closer.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Grudge Match: Religious Right vs. ...Conservative Partyt!?

Christian activists seek to crucify Garth Turner

It is safe to say that politics and religion are, more often than not, a volatile combination.

Sometimes politics and religion go hand-in-hand. When the need arises, religious

leaders of varying stripes can be effective organizers. Many would consider this to be mainly true of right-wing conservative parties. This isn't necessarily so. Tommy Douglas, the greatest leader ever offered by a Canadian left-wing party, drew his roots directly from Gospel Protestantism -- a socialist breed of Christianity.
But the opposite is just as often the case -- if not more so.

Lately, Conservative MP Garth Turner has had an interesting fight on his hands. At a time when many critics of the Conservative party want to accuse it of being too close to Christian fundamentalists (for the past ten years, in fact), Turner has seemingly incurred the wrath of Charles McVety.

McVety, who is active with a number of Canadian Christian advocacy groups -- including Defend Marriage Canada, the Canada Christian College and the Canada Family Action Coalition -- recently shared a disagreement with Turner over the role of a Christian activist. McVety believes that this role is to defeat "anti-Christian, anti-marriage, anti-life" Conservative MPs with "family-friendly" Christian candidates.

Naturally, with talk such as this, the subject was same-sex marriage. Naturally, it is safe to assume that McVety is opposed to it.

"[McVety's] group, as you can see in the post below, is after my political head since I trashed their stated plans to swamp nomination meetings of Tory MPs who support gay marriage and are otherwise morally deficient," Turner writes on his weblog, The Turner Report. " I said I disagree with any special interest candidates who are foisted on a party or a riding in a stacked nomination meeting, especially when a sitting MP – electable and experienced – is the victim of a one-night hijacking."

The one-night hijacking in question are schemes in which McVety organizes individuals sympathetic to his cause to purchase Conservative party memberships, and flood pre-election nomination meetings in order to help install a candidate who will support his agenda.

Hijacking isn't a new trick for McVety. He has been known to register online domains under the names of politicians, particularly those who oppose his views. Many critics consider this to be cybersquatting. However, because he uses these sites to express opinions regarding each particular politician's views, the law allows him to do so under tenets of acceptable use.

Charles McVety is not a man who believes in the separation of church and state. His plan to supplant the candidates of a political party with religious activists is chilling to those who believe in the secular state. This is precisely what Turner was alluding to when he wrote: "Faith-based politics is fine. It has a long tradition. It can accomplish a lot of good. But when one religious or cultural group engineers a coup, overwhelming existing political party members and workers, and replacing a politician elected by a plurality of people with a single-issue monochromatic militant, well, kiss democracy goodbye."

Supporters of McVety would later try to use this statement to paint him as an anti-religious zealot. Perhaps a person may suggest it would take a zealot to know one, and if this was true McVety would certainly know one if he saw it.

Along with his wife and children, McVety attended the 2005 Liberal party convention aboard his famed "Defend Marriage" tour bus. About the experience he wrote the following: "As in the days of Lot the penalty for the righteous was that they knocked on the doors of Lot and demanded his young men for their sexual pleasure. This was the penalty for the righteous being “wrong” in their eyes. As I stood on a rally platform outside the Convention Centre we prayed that marriage would be defended Canada protected. Hecklers cursed and swore at us and held up a sign displaying the word 'Immoral'."

This would certainly be a frightening bundle of rhetoric, if it didn't instead provoke one very simple response: what the fuck?

He noted that his daughter, confronted by the contempt and fury of the Liberal attendees, asked him: "daddy, why are they spitting at us?" He neglects to mention that he exposed his children to this behavior (as unacceptable as it may indeed be) knowingly and willingly. Which would make a certain amount of sense: his crusade against same-sex marriage is "for the children".

Let it also be known that this is a man who has organized boycotts against Famous Players theatres (for showing an advertisement supporting same-sex marriage) and the Da Vinci Code (apparently for being a fictional book about Christ).

If allowed to garner any significant amount of influence in the Conservative party, McVety would prove to be one of the greatest liabilities in the party's history. Those who suspiciously eye the Conservative party as crusaders aching to turn the clock back to the days when religion took a direct role in governance would suddenly have their poster boy -- a bigger, better poster boy than Stockwell Day ever could have been.

On the other hand, Turner is an absolute treasure for the Conservative party. He is an MP who defies the typical stereotype that critics of the party would like to promote. He may have a firey personality. He may love to get down and scrap with his opponents, but he stands for what he believes in. Most importantly, he is an indispensible voice of dissent within the party -- without such voices, the Conservatives risk becoming victim to that pitfall that has so entirely entrapped the Liberal party: groupthink.

In short, Turner is a Conservative who's not afraid to think outside that little conservative box. Consider this in comparison to McVety, who obviously believes it is some sort of grievous sin to think outside the pages of the Bible. This is like mixing Jedi and Sith: bad fucking idea.

The Conservative party needs to pull Turner in and hold him close, and push McVety as far away as it can. Only then can it step forth from the shadow of Christian fundamentalism, and get on with the business of being a secular political party.
After all, religion and politics can be a nasty mix.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Liberal Party Prepares To Eat its Own Young

Ignatieff has fellow leadership candidates running scared

There is a man who has the Liberals running scared.

No, it's not Stephen Harper, who led the Conservative party in a defeat of the Liberals in the 2006 election. Nor is it the Honorable John Gomery, who handed them their ass at the Adscam inquiry, precipitating that defeat. Nor is it I (although, maybe it should be).

No, the man that the Liberals fear most is one within their party -- one they went to great lengths to recruit to run as a star candidate during the 2006 federal election.

This man is Michael Ignatieff.

At first glance Ignatieff, the current Member of Parliament for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, seems like the man that Liberal party members should absolutely adore. He's taught at Harvard. He's worked for the BBC, the Globe and Mail and New York Times Magazine. He's published volumes of books.

Like all Liberal leaders, Ignatieff was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, which was earned for him by his hard-working father, who emmigrated to Canada from the Soviet Union and eventually served as a distinguished diplomat. George Ignatieff also served as president of the United Nations Security Council. On his mother's side, Ignatieff can trace his lineage to George Monro Grant. Michael continued to benefit from his family's status when he attended the University of Toronto... where is father was conveniently the serving Chancellor.

Ignatieff was parachuted in to run for his riding, which he handily won. When Paul Martin resigned following his defeat, Ignatieff was immediately mentioned as a contender -- possibly the favourite -- to win the Liberal leadership. Indeed, in the minds of many, he has already won.

He's already shown leadership within Liberal party ranks. He recently turned a vote on extending Canada's mission in Afghanistan almost single-handedly, as he and his supporters stood against the Liberal caucus, and delivered the motion to a narrow victory.

Since that moment, Ignatieff has been in the crosshairs of his opponents.
At the June 10 Liberal party leadership forum, Joe Volpe fired his first shots at Ignatieff, when he seemed to point out Ignatieff's short membership in the party. Bob Rae (obviously continuing to attempt to tap into the anti-American crowd) accused Ignatieff of holding opinions that are too similar to those of the American Republicans.

What is perhaps most shocking about Rae's accusations is that they are awfully true.
Ignatieff's critics accuse him of supporting the controversial Missile Defense Shield. In "A Generous Helping of Liberal Brains" he writes:

"The government has recently announced its decision about ballistic-missile defence. The decision will be popular in the party. But we need clarity in our national defence policy. We need to balance a principled opposition to the future weaponization of space with an equally principled commitment to participate in North American defence right now. We don't want our decisions to fracture the command system of North American defence, and we don't want a principled decision to result in us having less control over our national sovereignty. We must be there, at the table, defending what only we can defend.""
In short, past agreements not to weaponize space are all well and good. But we need to protect ourselves now. Pragmatic, perhaps. But it is exactly what his critics accuse him of.

Ignatieff's critics accuse him of supporting the American war in Iraq. In "The Burden", he writes:

"Those who want America to remain a republic rather than become an empire imagine rightly, but they have not factored in what tyranny or chaos can do to vital American interests. The case for empire is that it has become, in a place like Iraq, the last hope for democracy and stability alike."
In short, the only hope for the survival of American democracy is to go to war abroad, in places like Iraq.

Ignatieff's critics aim to rally the anti-American crowd, and accuse him of spending more time in the United States than in Canada. Again, they are right. Harvard may be one heckuva school, but McGill it ain't. He also writes much of his work under the guise of being an American.

However, there is one area where his critics have clearly missed their mark. Ignatieff has, in the course of his writings, questioned the moral nature of torture. While some people may consider this to be inherently dangerous, all Ignatieff has tried to do in this particular situation is explore the definition of torture. In "Evil under Interrogation", he writes:

"A liberal society that would not defend itself by force of arms might perish, while a liberal society that refused to torture is less likely to jeopardise its collective survival. Besides, there is a moral difference between killing a fellow combatant, in conformity to the laws of war, and torturing a person. The first takes a life; the second abuses one. It seems more legitimate to ask a citizen to defend a state by force of arms and, if necessary, to kill in self-defence or to secure a military objective, than it does to ask him to inflict degrading pain face to face. On this reading of a democratic moral identity, it may be legitimate to kill in self-defence, but not to engage in cruelty."
The point quickly becomes abundantly clear: torture occurs when someone is treated in a manner that cannot be justified based on their actions. Finally, torture is wrong.

There is no question that those who control the Liberal party leadership -- pulling the strings of the "election" process, favor individuals such as Ignatieff. The reasons for this are already well established. For this reason alone, Ignatieff clearly stands head-and-shoulders above his meagre competition -- he holds favour with those whose favour he needs.

These are the king makers of the Liberal party. They were the masterminds behind the ascension of Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chretien, and they imagine the leadership campaign less like an actual campaign, and more like a coronation -- where the "crown" of the "natural governing party of Canada" (they have, in fact, controlled the government for all but a handful of the last 100 years) is neatly passed from meticulously pre-selected leader to the next. It is for this reason that Canadians can probably fully expect the crown to be passed along to one of the surviving Trudeau children at some point in the next 20 years. It is indeed a chilling view of Canadian democracy, but one that the Liberal party has been advancing for longer than any living party member can likely attest.

Because of this in turning on Ignatieff, the Liberal party is in fact cannibalizing itself. The fact is actually quite simple: in looking at the list of candidates for the Liberal leadership, Ignatieff is in fact the most qualified, and easily the most charismatic. This is what makes him most dangerous to his competitors: he is a legitimate triple threat.

Certainly, the Liberals are not the only ones who are afraid of Michael Ignatieff. The Conservative party is likely rubbing its hands together in anticipation of lining up against any of the other piss-poor candidates that have been advanced to lead the Liberal party.

But not Ignatieff. Ignatieff is a true threat. He is determined to defeat the Conservatives: "We have an enormous responsibility to defeat the Harper government. We have to understand -- we have to make Canadians realize the choice they face. This is a government that has abandoned our environmental commitments. This is a government that has lost and betrayed faith with aboriginal Canadians.”
Beyond this, he is the only candidate capable of the task.

In turning on Michael Ignatieff, the Liberal party is in fact turning against its own future. Its future with Ignatieff may not be guaranteed, but it would be a whole lot brighter than with any of the other candidates.

Perhaps that is what these other candidates fear the most.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Just Because You're Paranoid Doesn't Mean They Aren't After You

But does it mean they are?

For as long as there has been conspiracy theorists, three words have struck fear into their hearts and minds: new. World. Order.

An idea of unrelenting paranoia, "new world order" theories essentially deal with the idea of one world government. Many proponents of such theories have kicked their rantings into high gear recently, as the ultra-secretive Bilderberg group meets in Ottawa.

Daniel Estulin claims the Bilderberberg group is a group of powerful people bent upon establishing a monolithic super-state, which would force the world to be united under one government, constitution, religion and currency. He claims that they have already had their fair share of successes: "'re seeing it right now as you have NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and you have the European Community (EC)," Estulin insists.

Yikes. Certainly, this is scary stuff.

More notably, Estulin concludes -- using information that he says has been supplied to him by concerned CIA, MI5 and Mossad agents -- that the group pulls the strings of the mainstream media, deciding what will and what will not be considered news in the following year. He claims that they discuss how best to eliminate resistance to their agenda (the alternative truth movement and American Christian patriots have been reportedly been considered in recent years). Ultimately, he suggests the Bilderberg group would take control of the UN -- newly empowered with the ability to directly tax all citizens of the world -- in order to complete its goal of world unification.

But imagine what it would mean for the world if Estulin's frightening theory were true.

For one thing, it would mean that many people who have participated in this conference and who are, we are lead to believe, political opponents are actually complicitly working together toward the same machavellian goals. For example, Liberal Prime Ministers Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chretien have both attended this conference. In 2003, while serving as leader of the opposition, current PM Stephen Harper attended.

This would suggest that Chretien and Harper were "playing for the same team" as it were -- even as they faced each other across the parliamentary floor. Certainly, this would be a conspiracy unparallelled in Canadian history.

Certainly it wouldn't only be Canadian leaders who would be cooperating with each other in this vast conspiracy. The heads of dozens of major corporations -- who, by nature, must compete against each other on a regular basis, have also attended. Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry attended in 2001. In 2003, Republican Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld attended.

This is only a sampling of people who have appeared at Bilderberg conferences -- the group, which claims its purpose is to foster understanding between North America and Western Europe, is shrouded in astounding secrecy. At this year's conference, the Brook Street Resort has expelled all of its guests, and is allowing nobody -- which the exception of a very select few, who have undergone stringent security checks -- is being allowed in or out of the building, or even the parking lot. Unlike other high-profile events, where the arrivals of participants are covered extensively by the press, the Bilderberg conference takes place under a complete media black out -- one that Estulin claims is self-imposed by the media elites who attend the conference on a regular basis. Simply put, we the public don't know who attends the conference.

Certainly, this is disquieting. The presence of people such as Henry Kissinger (who Victor Marchetti identifies as a leader of the C.I.A. "cult of intelligence") doesn't exactly help to lay the suspicions of conspiracy theorists -- or even the general public -- to rest.

If the concernts of individuals such as Daniel Estulin are simply paranoid rantings, perhaps there is no reason at all for the secrecy surrounding the Bilderberg conferences. But if they aren't up to anything, then why all the secrecy?

Perhaps there is more going on under our noses than the Bilderberg group (or the alleged "new world order") would like us to believe. The question is: what?
It's a fair question.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Corruption: Is What's Good For the Goose Also Good For the Gander?

Liberals may have hit the jackpot

Prime Minister Stephen Harper may have something other than not getting along with the media to keep him busy these days.

On June 6th, the Liberals called on the RCMP to investigate a lawsuit filed against Conservative MP Rob Anders filed by James Istvanffy, a former executive assistant who alleges he was fired for questioning Anders' decisions regarding the expenditure of his campaign funding.

Istvanffy, who was paid $51,500 annually, claims that Anders borrowed thousands of dollars from him, in order to cover expenses that the House of Commons would't spring for. He also claims that Anders resorted to fraudulently billing the government in order to repay some of his debts. Istvanffy claims that Anders used expense accounts to do this, under the guise of salary increases, fake travel expenses, and book shelves. He also claims that a number of people were put to work on the federal Conservative campaign while being paid with taxpayer dollars.

Naturally, Anders denies these allegations, and has promised a strong statement of such will be released by the end of the week.

As always in Canada, Anders is innocent until proven guilty. It isn't entirely implausible that Istvanffy may be filing the lawsuit and making these accusations strictly as an act of retribution. One could wonder why Istvanffy is suing for unpaid debts while claiming that he was repaid with pilfered taxpayer dollars. Then again, one would also expect that Istvanffy wouldn't be so bold as to make these accusations unless he could prove them.

He will have to prove them -- possibly even in the course of an RCMP or Parliamentary investigation.

"Obviously these allegations are very serious and if they are true, this is something that's more than just a breach of good faith - this is outright fraud and criminal if true,'' said Liberal MP Mark Holland, who represents Ajax-Pickering.

He's absolutely right. After all the ruckus raised by the Conservatives over the sponsorship scandal (and rightfully so), the last thing the Conservatives can afford to have is an in-house scandal of this sort. Should these allegations be found to be true, they could even potentially de-rail the crucial accountability act that the Conservatives have promised.

The Anders story breaks as the Liberal party has uncovered a scandal of its own. Liberal Senator Raymond Lavigne has been accused of using a member of his office staff to cut down trees near his cottage -- while on the taxpayers' clock.

However, in what seems like an uncharacteristic move, Liberal interim leader Bill Graham has done what former leader Paul Martin wouldn't do, and has kicked Lavigne out of caucus until the investigation is settled -- one way or the other. Martin, as some may recall, refused to discipline Scott Brison, who as Vice-Chairman of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance sent an e-mail to a friend leaking what he believed would be a favourable policy regarding the taxation of income trusts.

"It is inappropriate for Senator Lavigne to sit with the Liberal caucus until any investigations have been completed," Graham said in a statement.

Wow. In an uncharacteristic move, the federal Liberals have set a good example on how to deal with potential corruption (the allegations against Lavigne are not yet proven, either). Certainly, all eyes will turn to Stephen Harper: will he follow suit and (at least temporarily) oust Anders from caucus until this matter is settled?

Hopefully, he will. At least asking Anders to voluntarily sit out from the Conservative caucus until the matter is settled certainly isn't any sort of accusation. Nor would Anders agreeing to do so be an admission of guilt. It would be an act of a government that (as promised) takes corruption -- even the mere accusations of corruption -- seriously.

It isn't often that the Liberal party sets an example that other parties should follow, but this is one of these times. Unfortunately for the Liberals, Bill Graham isn't running for their party leadership.

How, it is up to Stephen Harper to follow Graham's example and show Canadians that his party takes corruption within its ranks every bit as seriously as it has proven it takes corruption within other parties.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

June 2006 Book Club Selection : The Revolution Will Not be Televised, Joe Trippi

The perfect storm is coming

Many people are shocked at how close John Kerry came to being runner-up to Howard Dean for the 2004 Democratic Presidential Candidacy.

Reading The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, it becomes crystal clear that few people were more surprised by how close "people powered Howard" came to the ultimate underdog victory than his campaign manager, Joe Trippi.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised chronicles the unlikely tale of how Howard and Trippi utilized the power of the internet to establish an electronic consituency that nearly delivered Howard to the White House. It's a tale of a battle contested between "old politics" and "new politics", with the future of the United States on the line. Ultimately, it's a tale of the grassroots foundation that mainstream American politics have foresaken rising up to reclaim their system, and reclaim their country.

It quickly becomes apparent that the book is essentially a blueprint for building something phenomenal out of nothing. It drags the reader throughout its pages, and drags them out of the television-enslaved past and transplants them into the present, a world that is quickly becoming something that was once envisioned as the distant future.

This book is a fantastic read, and leaves the reader with a great deal to chew on.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Joe Volpe Gives Candy Back to Babies

I'd sure like these kids' allowances

Liberal leadership hopeful Joe Volpe has been busted.

Despite insisting that three $5,400 donations recieved from the children of exectuives of Apotex, a generic drug company, were perfectly legal, Volpe has chosen to return the controversial donations.

" They're kind of embarrassed about the controversy," Volpe said of the children's parents. "They had made a decision for very positive reasons and someone has turned it into something very negative."

And if you'll buy that, mr. Volpe also has a truckload of Apotex's new cure for the common cold that he can sell you -- slightly sneezed on.

In fact, Volpe has recieved $108,000 from current and former executives of the company, which under law, is prohibited from donating funds to a leadership race. While corporations are restricted from making donations, private individuals are not. So, if someone were to donate $5,400 in their children's names to a candidate they feel would be likely to reciprocate to their company, that would be perfectly legal.

...Or not. Under Elections Canada regulations, it is unlawful for individuals to willfully seek to circumvent election laws. While Volpe's lawyer sent NDP Member of Parliament Pat Martin a letter threatening to sue him for accusing Volpe of "a deliberate and well-orchestrated fraud on the Elections act donations limit rules." Martin has since retracted his statement and apologized. Perhaps rightfully so.

Yet, it would seem, if mr. Volpe has not himself tried to circumvent this law, has someone not sought to do it on his behalf? Namely, Apotex CEO Barry Sherman and president Jack Kay? Sherman donated $5,400 in the name of his 11-year-old twins and 14-year-old son. Kay donated in the name of his two children as well.

Of course, one could argue that perhaps the children donated the money out-of-pocket. Liberal party rules actually allow minors to participate in the party. They may be delegates at party conventions, provided that they can pay thousands of dollars in fees necessary to attend. Then again, one would expect that the children of Canada's richest would have one fuckload of an allowance -- certainly enough to cover these expenses.

This has been the story of the Liberal leadership race from the very beginning. In an effort to open the process to more "ordinary people", each candidate must pay a $50,000 fee. Notably, this was reduced from a previous $75,000 fee -- but one can easily question may many "ordinary people" are willing to mortgate their homes in order to enter a leadership race they could not win, in a political party that is predisposed to electing multi-millionaires and billionaires as their leader.

Curiously, Joe Volpe's website (, which is emblazoned with his campaign slogan: "Growth, Opportunity and Equality" has nothing to say about this controversy. As with all Liberal leadership candidates, his campaign slogan should read: "Hegemony of the rich, for the rich, by the rich."

Because that is precisely what this is. Joe Volpe and his Liberal bretheren certainly want this story to blow over quickly, mostly because of the parallels it could draw between them and the spectacularly unpopular and corrupt Bush administration in the United States. In a very similar fashion, corporate executives in the United States were able to gain influence with the president by soliciting donations from their friends, families and employees, then packaging them together to form donations that well exceeded the maximum permissable under American law, yet remained legal because they were essentially thousands of smaller donations. Corporate executives who were able to deliver $100,000 in packaged donations were dubbed "Rangers". Those able to deliver $200,000 in donations were dubbed "Pioneers". In return for delivering such a package of donations, American pharmaceutical executives were able to push through a national prescription drug program that would benefit the companies at the expense of the taxpayer.

This is transactional politics at its worst. And for a leadership candidate of a party that, during the 2006 election, accused Conservative leader Stephen Harper of accepting funds from U.S. President George W. Bush, this absolutely reeks.

There, is however, a ray of hope. The NDP have responded by proposing an amendment that would count the political donations of any minors against the contribution limits of their parents, an amendment that Treasury Board President John Baird has said the Conservatives are very receptive to.

Volpe, for his part, claims that while these donations don't violate the letter of the law, his decision to return them is due to his respect for the spirit of the law. Yet, someone could ask them why he accepted them to begin with, let alone why he waited until after tremendous public and media backlash to do this.

One can simply call it good old fashioned Liberal duplicity. Joe Volpe clearly doesn't care very much about Elections regulations -- he's certainly more than willing to accept money from those who don't care about them at all.