Monday, May 31, 2010

France's Hard Road in Africa

Legacy of colonialism requires legacy of mentorship

Ever since the long process of de-colonization in Africa, French foreign policy on that continent has been something of a puzzle.

As previously noted to be the case for Britain, too forceful activity on the part of the French in Africa will bring charges of colonialism. But to decline to engage with their former colonies will allow the political environment in Africa to continue festering.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has moved away from the spectre of colonialism by decommissioning two of Frence's five military bases on the continent. But given the political environment in Africa, the answer cannot be less French presence. It in fact needs to be more.

In July Sarkozy will host a summit between France and its former African colonies. The summit will likely help France find the answer of what the ideal level of engagement with its former colonies should be. The question that lingers is whether or not France is prepared to make the necessary commitment required.

Sarkozy seems to place at least some of the blame for Africa's plight on African leadership.

"The tragedy of Africa is that the African has not fully entered into history," Sarkozy recently announced.

But France needs to provide desperately-needed mentorship to the leaders of its former African colonies -- in places like The Congo, Chad, and the Central African Republic.

That was once the way of France's African policies -- French West Africans were regarded as fully French, and were often offered educational opportunities at that level. Often the bulk of governmental responsibilities were assigned to African leaders, who worked directly under French higher authorities.

The haste of de-colonization allowed cronyism and virulent forms of nationalism-tattooed-upon-tribalism to set in in many of these former French colonies, destroying what progress the French model of colonialism -- one comparatively benevolent in some respects -- had wrought.

The new model of French mentorship with its former colonies clearly cannot simply be an updated version of the old model. La Francophonie could prove to be valuable tool of multi-national mentorship to these colonies. Unfortunately, some of the more developed members of La Francophonie have little to offer in this regard.

Belgium, for example, was known for the brutal oppression of its colonies in Africa. Greece has few positive examples to offer to France's former colonies, judging from the status of its finances.

That would leave the burden of leadership in La Francophonie to France, Canada, and Switzerland. Nor could these three countries direct all of their attentions to Africa. Haiti is indesperate need of this manner of help.

France's hard road in Africa is one that it doesn't have to travel alone. Hopefully, the results of Nicolas Sarkozy's Africa summit will help him realize that.

Note to Vancouver Radicals...

...When you're complaining that the police are manhandling you, don't show people what you did to make it necessary.

"Jason Kenney you're not welcome here!" But we won't let you leave, either.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Paul Martin Offers Advice on "Good Government". Don't Laugh.

There's irony in all of this

Speaking in Kingston, Ontario recently, former Prime Minister Paul Martin offered his thoughts on what good government is.

Don't laugh.

"Good government is transparent and we're not seeing this in the numbers," Martin said, pointing at the projected cost of security for the G20 and G8 Conferences. "It seems inconceivable that this is the price. This is five to 10 times what we were told a couple of months ago."

Of course, Martin seems to have forgotten that was before Ottawa-area anarchists firebombed a bank. When thousands of protesters are set to descend on downtown Toronto, that's one thing. When anarchists are running about in the nation's capital, blowing shit up in advance and promising more such acts during the summit, that's another thing entirely.

But moreover, it's actually more than a little amusing to see Martin trying to lecture Prime Minister Stephen Harper about "good government". Not only does Harper now have double Martin's experience as Prime Minister, but his lecturing about transparency comes off as far short of convincing.

After all, it was Paul Martin who, along with Ralph Goodale, made the decision not to hold a public inquiry into the Income Trusts leak. That led NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis to write a letter to the RCMP to get them to investigate.

The news that the RCMP had opened the investigation came at a very poor time for the Liberals, many of whom think that the investigation cost them the 2006 election.

In other words, the Liberal Party's lack of transparency cost them government. This was after the unprecedented revelations of the Gomery Inquiry -- it is, in fact, unprecedented to find a governing political party literally stealing from the citizens of Canada.

It should have been even more unprecedented to have an electorate docile enough to reelect that party to government after it becomes clear that party has stolen.

After 2004, it wasn't unprecedented at all.

Yet Paul Martin, the former Prime Minister who got that inexplicable free pass in 2004 and found that it couldn't bear further scandal in 2006, wants to lecture the Conservative Party on good government.

It is to laugh.

But don't. At this point, it's just cruel.

If Not Lecture, Then Mentor

William Hague's "hands off" policy on India/Pakistan relations a bad idea

Speaking recently about bilateral relations between India and Pakistan, British Foreign Secretary has announced his intention to adopt a "hands-off" policy on the matter.

“It will not be our approach to lecture other countries on how they should conduct their bilateral relations and we won’t tell India and Pakistan how to conduct their bilateral relations,” Hague announced. “We have noted the recent improvement in bilateral relations between Pakistan and India which is good for the future peace in the world but cannot lecture the two countries on finding a way out to resolve the outstanding issues.”

Understandably, matters related to India and Pakistan -- or any of the Commonwealth countries -- are fairly sensitive in Britain. Britain cannot be seen to be unduly meddling in the affairs of its colonies. To do so would be interpreted by many as a form of imperialism.

Lecturing India and Pakistan about their diplomatic relations would be precisely that.

So naturally the British government shouldn't want to lecture the two countries. Mentoring them would be another matter entirely.

India and Pakistan are both sovereign states. But as far as sovereign states go, they are both young states. When one considers the amount of time it took Britain to settle its historical animosities with France, and when one considers how deeply-engrained the Indo-Pakistani region is within British and global interests, it becomes clear that no one can afford to wait for a centuries-long reproachment process leading to a stable peace between the two countries.

Mentoring India and Pakistan through a successful peace process isn't a burden Britain should have to carry alone. Britain has allies within the Commonwealth of Nations that share British heritage with India and Pakistan, and are well-poised to help Britain mentor India and Pakistan through such a peace process.

Considering the spiral effect tensions between India and Pakistan have on neighbouring states -- particularly Afghanistan -- India/Pakistan relations are simply too important to be left alone.

There's no shame in two young states like India and Pakistan needing a little help to get through a peace process. There's no reason in the world why Britain shouldn't poise itself to help.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ancient Greece's Military Industrial Complex

No country is as challenged as that which is beset by enemies. Ancient Sparta serves as a reminder of that.

The Spartan response to the internal threat posed by the Helots -- a conquered people who outnumbered the Spartans by a margin of ten to one -- was to refine its society and economy into one centred around its military. One can arguably recognize a similarity to the post-war United States.

In 1956, outgoing US President Dwight Eisenhower delivered a televised speech warning the citizens of the United States about the development of a military industrial complex that threatened to overwhelm the halls of power.

Indeed, it was the first time in American history that a permanent arms industry existed. That arms industry had been established to fight Nazi fascism and Japanese imperialism, but had grown in size, complexity and influence during the Cold War. The size, technological complexity and political influence of the military industrial complex endures today.

In Ancient Sparta, the demands of national security, as it were, far outstripped those imposed by the United States in the name of the same. In time, the entire state's purpose came to be centred around producing strong warriors.

While the military industrial complex in the United States was designed to defend American democracy, the Spartan equivalent was actually designed to repel democracy.

There is one important similarity between the two. In Sparta, the focus on militarism suppressed political growth within Sparta, dooming it to lag behind neighbouring city states -- particularly Athens -- in many regards. In the United States, it is often argued that the military industrial complex does the same -- and the arguments may well be correct.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Oh, My. That's a Devestating Intellectual Argument You've Made There

Clearly following up with certain lunatics who think temper tantrums are a credible alternative to defend one's arguments, it seems that Audrey of ETP apparently wants to muse about the sizes of "appendages":
Apparently, Audrey is uncomfortable enough with the size of her readers and the number and quality of ideas she can offer them (quantity -- very few; quality -- very poor). So her solution is to spread innuendo about anyone who would point this out to her.

One would say "fair enough".

But then one stops to think: doesn't something like this actually undermine the purpose of Audrey's blog. Let your not-so-humble scribe explain it to you.

The purpose of Enormous Thriving Plants -- which, judng from its content, is really just a rip off of the also-dismal Canadian Cynic and Galloping Beaver blogs -- is to attempt to demonstrate that so-called "progressives" are intellectually superior to conservatives.

Audrey doesn't try to accomplish this by attempting to produce a superior package of ideas, or even attempt to demonstrate the superiority of her own ideas. Rather, Audrey attempts to accomplish this by denigrating the ideas of conservatives -- comically, while refusing to even familiarize herself with them (Jonah Goldberg, anyone?).

Yet Audrey has a tendency to pretend that the arguments offered on her blog are intellectually devastating -- even when she tries to read natural selection out of evolutionary theory.

In reality, what Audrey does is attempt to single out fringe elements of conservative thought and treat them as representative of a whole. When she attempts to address the ideas of more mainstream conservatives, she uses a different tactic: deliberately mis-representing their ideas or arguments.

After suffering a long streak of defeats, Audrey's response was to join a blogging embargo against your so-superior-to-twits-like-Audrey-that-there's-no-sense-in-even-pretending-otherwise scribe.

Which, in itself, was an awfully devastating argument.

Apparently, to those on the far side of the blogging iron curtain -- Audrey included -- running away from those who have defeated them is how they ultimately prove they're smarter.

Go figure.

And now Audrey has clearly fallen even further than that. Slander and innuendo may bring a fickle smile to the face of the intellectually cowardly, but your so-very-intellectually-superior-to-Audrey scribe would remind her that, for what she so desperately craves, slander and innuendo won't get it done.

What Audrey needs is a devastating intellectual argument. And considering that she can't even get the difference between astronomy and astrology right, it's pretty clear that's just never going to emerge.

That's why it's time to close the books on Audrey once and for all.

The poor dear just can't keep up. It's time to let her wallow in her intellectual impotency without the attentions provided by the Nexus.

But fear not, Audrey. We'll always have evolutionary theory. And your demonstrated ignorance of it.

Extreme Agendas = Favouring Abolition of the Senate

BQ, NDP both favour abolishing Senate

Speaking at a recent panel discussion on the topic of Senate Reform, Bloc Quebecois MP Nicole Demers, NDP MP David Christopherson, Liberal Senator James Cowan and Conservative Senator Hugh Segal all discussed the topic of Senate reform.

Two of those individuals -- Demers and Christopherson -- weren't interesting in talking about Senate reform at all. Rather, they were more interested in talking about Senate abolition.

"My party is against senate reform, my party is for the abolition of the senate," Demers insisted. "There is no way the senate can be reformed unless you reopen the constitution and to do that, you need the goodwill of 10 provinces. We know you won't get the goodwill of 10 provinces so it just makes no sense."

Demers knows full well that if she had her way, no consitutional talks could attract the good will of Quebec.

Pierre Trudeau learned the hard way about the folly of attempting to have good faith constitutional discussions with a separatist. Rene Levesque learned the hard way that wasn't going to fly indefinitely.

Christopherson echoed Demers preference for abolition.

"It's a holdback from another era and its time to eliminate it," he added. "The government is bringing in legislation that's just nibbling at the edges and is probably going to do more harm than good."

He insisted that piecemeal Senate reform would make the ill effects of Senate reform entrenched.

It actually wouldn't. Rather, if particular Senate reform bills really did more harm than good, Parliament would be able to repeal the legislation. Unlike a constitutional amendment -- the repeal of which would require another constitutional amendment.

Funny how that escaped Christopherson's notice.

But, then again, it should be no surprise that parties with extreme ideological agendas would oppose a house of sober, second thought that would derail their agendas.

For the Bloc Quebecois, abolishing the Senate means there would be one less house of government that would have to approve of any negotiated agreement on Quebec separation, should they ever manage to win a referendum.

(The odds continue to remain against it.)

For the NDP, the Senate would merely be another source of opposition to a far-left waffle-driven hidden agenda. It would make it remarkably easy for minority governments -- which the NDP would certainly have to settle for, if it ever managed to govern federally at all -- to hammer their legislation through a weak opposition, should such a government be so fortunate.

Cowan made his objection to senate reform a little more transparent. He argues that legislative means of Senate reform are unconstitutional.

"It can't be done by act of parliament because we have the constitution and you can't change it without consent from the provinces," he insisted. "We know Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia ... are not in favour of an elected senate and they are ambivalent about the proposal for a limited term."

But clearly Cowan has misunderstood the nature of Canada's Constitution. Canada's Constitution is a British-style Constitution with written and unwritten elements -- and that the written elements of Canada's Constitution are not limited to the British North America Act.

(For example, many Canadians don't know that the Magna Carta is part of the written body of work that makes up Canada's Constitution.)

Segal hit paydirt on this particular detail when he noted the number of public institutions that aren't covered by the Constitution at all.

"Many of the things we have in our system, cabinet ministers, political parties, they aren't mentioned in the constitution," Segal explained. In fact, some of the basic parts of Canada's political institutions -- like the office of Prime Minister -- aren't mentioned in the Constitution.

Rather, many of these things have come about as Constitutional convention -- part of the unwritten element of Canada's Constitution.

In fact, the current Senator selection process -- under which both Cowan and Segal were appointed -- is a matter of convention. Under the Constitution, Senators are to be appointed by the Governor General, acting on behalf of the Queen.

At a purely ceremonial level, this continues to be the case. But constitional convention has since defined the right of selection to belong to the Prime Minister.

That convention could be expanded to require that the Prime Minister appoint Senators chosen by their constituents via an election.

Canadian democracy is badly in need of Senate reform. Although individuals like James Cowan may insist on standing in the way, it remains the only means of ensuring that parties with extreme agendas don't manage to seize control of the country.

Abolishing the Senate would make the advancement of such single-minded extreme agendas easier. It's one of the best reasons why anyone who favours abolishing the Senate should be viewed with suspicion.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Remember, liberal supporter... You Brought This On Yourself

"liberal supporter" from the Clowncar Brigade has been remarkably quiet lately. If anyone suspected that this meant that he had decided to get out of the blog-trolling game with what is left of his meagre dignity intact, it turns out they were wrong.

Here liberal supporter haunts a comment thread at Hatrock's Cave.

Here your not-so-humble scribe reminds liberal supporter that he had once claimed that a date rape victim was not date raped because her assailant wasn't convicted.

liberal supporter insists that statement is a lie.

The problem for liberal supporter is that it's not a lie:
There are clearly two nuggets of stupidity here to dissect.

The first is that liberal supporter very clearly doesn't know what a verdict of "not guilty" means.

"Not guilty" doesn't mean that there was no victim, and that nothing occurred, but rather that the court doesn't find sufficient evidence to convict.

A verdict of "innocent" wouldn't even suggest that there was no victim, and that nothing wrong occurred -- not implicitly. Rather, a verdict of "innocent" simply means that the court rules that the accused didn't commit the act.

Beyond that, one has to consider the argument that liberal supporter used on this occasion.

By the same logic, Nicole Simpson wasn't murdered. OJ Simpson was found to be "not guilty". The plaintiff (the state) lost its case. Therefore, there is no murdered woman.

Your not-so-humble scribe would love to, at this point, declare the book on liberal supporter to be closed.

The problem is that this moron doesn't have the sense to let it end. Every time your so-very-far-from-humble-because-he-can-afford-not-to-be scribe encounters liberal supporter in a blog thread, liberal supporter seems to lack the ability to remember humiliating himself, and so declines to do what marginally wiser individuals who can't win arguments do: run away.

All anyone can do is remind him of this very simple concept that he just refuses to comprehend:

No means no.

Tastily updated:

So if anyone reading this post was wondering to themselves: is liberal supporter really the kind of dimwit who would stand behind this kind of ignorance and stupidity?

Sadly, it seems the answer is yes:
So, let's recap.

Your not-so-humble scribe points out that liberal supporter claimed that because a "not guilty" verdict was rendered in a date rape case, it means that there was no date rape.

liberal supporter calls your not-so-humble-scribe a "pathological liar".

Your not-so-humble-scribe provides evidence of said comment. liberal supporter stands by said ignorance and stupidity. And despite the fact that the comment that elicited the "pathological liar" accusation bore out to be true, liberal supporter insists that your not-so-humble scribe is still a "pathological liar".

Some people, it seems, are simply incapable of honest dialogue. liberal supporter is a clear and ever-present example of just such an individual.

Debating with liberal supporter is actually rather Orwellian. Lies are insisted to be the truth. Truth is insisted to be lies.

It's on that note that one realizes that when liberal supporter calls someone a pathological liar, it actually means that individual pathologically tells the truth.

Quite the insult. Quite the insult.

No means no.

The Quest for the Next Governator

Republicans need to erase memory of Schwarzenegger

In the California Republican Primary, it seems that Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner aren't merely running against one another.

They're also running against the incumbent -- Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"Schwarzenegger" has become rhetorical shorthand for "bad Republican" in this primary election. When one considers what has become of California's finances under Schwarzenegger, it isn't hard to understand why.

The financial commitments of the California government continue to grow, while revenue becomes harder and harder to come by.

Republicans have responded by effectively re-casting Schwarzenegger as a Democrat.

"Conservatives want to make him look like a Democrat as much as possible, so they can distinguish their own mantra from what they feel to be an establishment that caters to liberal causes," said San Jose State University political scientist Larry Gerston. "To conservatives, he's the classic definition of a RINO: a Republican in name only."

Clearly not only do Whitman and Poizner need to rhetorically re-brand Schwarzenegger for their own political gain, but also for that of their party.

No Republican will be able to contend for the office of Governor if they can't offer an alternative to Schwarzenegger.

But as badly as they need to distinguish themselves from Schwarzenegger just to be electable, Poizner and Whitman also need to find creative ways to manage California's deficit.

Moreover, they don't merely need to manage California's budget given the fiscal obligatons of today.

The state's ballot initiative law means that these obligations are continually subject to change. In California, anyone who can collect enough signatures on a petition can place a legislative proposal on the election day ballot.

Schwarzenegger himself attempted to gain control of California's budget through a number of ballot initiatives. These efforts failed.

At this point the only viable option may be to muster the courage to overturn past ballot initiatives in order to make deep enough cuts to the state's budget to erase the deficit.

The path for whichever candidate becomes the Republican nominee will be an extremely difficult one.

The Antidote to Front-Bench Domination

Graham Brady wins chairmanship of 1922 Committee

For those concerned about the dominance of Parliamentary caucuses by the front bench -- Cabinet Ministers and Opposition Critics -- the British Conservative Party offers a fantastic solution.

Since 1923, the 1922 Committee -- so named after the 1922 election in which the Tories won a massive landslide after terminating a coalition government with the National Liberal party of David Lloyd George, at the demand of Conservative backbenchers -- has consisted of Conservative backbenchers, and has often served as a means by whcih backbench MPs can hold the party leadership to account.

"My colleagues have done me a great honour and placed a great responsibility on me to work to help to make our arrangements a success in these difficult circumstances," Brady announced. "My priority will be to spend as much time as I can talking and listening to all of my colleagues across the parliamentary party, especially the new intake who make up such a large part of it."

Brady is a known critic of Prime Minister David Cameron, who recently attempted to talk the 1922 Committee into allowing front-benchers to join the committee. The committee understandably declined.

But Brady is more than a simple rabble rouser.

Daniel Hannan knows well that difference. Hannan himself has been known to be a critic of Cameron, particularly over Cameron's decision to abandon promises to hold a referendum on the European Union.

"Graham grasps the distinction between sticking to your principles and making trouble for the sake of it," Hannan writes in an op/ed. "He resigned from the front bench unfussily over his support for grammar schools, and remained loyal and polite thereafter. It was his example I had in mind when I left the European front bench in protest at the dropping of the referendum commitment."

That Daniel Hannan followed Brady's example clearly gives Cameron reason for pause. That's actually the best reason for him to be the chairman of the 1922 Committee.

Cameron's government is one that has already been born out of an act of compromise. There's nothing wrong with compromise, but there can be such a thing as too much compromise. Too much compromise can very quickly become a complete betrayal of a party's principles.

The amount of power wielded by the 1922 Committee can prevent any such wholesale betrayal.

Organizations such as the 1922 Committee could prove to be beneficiary for conservative political parties in any number of Parliamentary democracies.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Let's Make a Deal...

Shut the fuck up about a coalition, and we'll stop pointing it out

Writing in the Globe and Mail, Jane Taber condemns a recent Conservative Party memo musing about the return of a "coalition risk" to Canada as "fear mongering".

This is a little silly. After all, if coalition risk hasn't returned to Canada that's only because it never really left.

The memo reads:
"Given that Michael Ignatieff doesn’t have the popular support he needs to win an election outright; given his own pledge that he was ‘prepared’ to enter into a Coalition Government and to lead that Government; and given the urging of various Liberals to pursue a Coalition, it is clear that the Coalition risk has returned to Canada.

Hill Times reports that the Liberals and NDP do not have popular support they require to form a Coalition without the support of the Bloc Quebecois. But that isn’t stopping senior Liberal MP David McGuinty from becoming the latest Ignatieff Liberal to speak out in favour of a Coalition.

A Liberal-NDP-Bloc Quebecois Coalition would be led by a man who left Canada for 34 years and professed his love for America. It would put our economic recovery in the hands of former NDP Premier Bob Rae and current NDP leader Jack Layton. And it would contain a policy veto for the Bloc Quebecois -- a party that doesn’t even believe in a united Canada.
For his own part, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff objects to the spectre of a coalition being dredged up again, suggesting that the Conservatives proposed a coalition government between the Conservative Party, NDP, and Bloc Quebecois -- although in reality they did not.

Harper's 2004 letter to the Governor General merely called on Adrienne Clarkson to "consider all options" before dissolving Parliament. Compare that to Stephane Dion's 2008 letter which not only explicitly spoke of a coalition government, but even defined the form of said government.

But, at the end of the day, if the Liberal Party and their supporters don't like the omni-presence of their hare-brained 2008 coalition, they need to stop talking about forming one.

They need to have a little talk with people like Glenn Wheeler, who wrote a recent op/ed for the Toronto Star calling for such a coalition.

Wheeler writes:
"It’s a concern that strikes close to home. As a Liberal and executive member of a Toronto riding association, I have some fear myself of being labelled disloyal. My day job as in-house lawyer for a labour union may provide more fodder for accusations that I am an NDP interloper and not a true Grit.

But there are many other rank-and-file Liberals and NDPers who share my sinking feeling heading into the next election. It’s up to us envelope-lickers and door-knockers to create the political space for an honest dialogue about getting our parties to work together after the next election night. Unlike career hacks, we peons have little to lose, other than the country as we know it.
As the President of the Toronto Centre riding (his riding is represented by Bob Rae), Wheeler is much more than simply a "peon" in the Liberal Party machine. Rather, as a Riding Association President, in the riding of the party's deputy leader, he wields a tremendous amount of influence.

This is more than mere idle chatter offered by the party's "rank and file". Rather, it's serious discussion coming from a person of influence. Dicussion that echoes the incessant pro-coalition ramblings of individuals like Murray Dobbin.

If the Liberals and their supporters want the Conservatives to stop talking about the ill-fated 2008 coalition proposal that Canadians so thoroughly rejected, the Tories and their supporters will be more than happy to do that. But they'll have to do something first.

They'll have to stop flogging that dead horse themselves.


And Sister Sage Does it Again!

If the meltdown experienced yesterday by CK of Sister Sage's Musings didn't establish that she's just completely out to lunch with her delusions, a more recent post may confirm it once and for all.

In the post, CK suggests that progressives outside of Quebec should start a Quebec separatist movement to aid in the separation of Quebec so they may have have a far-left refuge in the case that Prime Minister Stephen Harper should ever win a majority government.
For his own part, Progressive Bloggers founder Scott Tribe has expressed his hope of hopes that CK wasn't being serious when she made that particular suggestion.

Sadly no, Scott. Rather CK is all about backing the separatists so long as it easily meshes with being anti-conservative.

But one actually has to love the sheer insanity of the very proposition itself. CK seems to imagine that a sovereign Quebec would become a progressive utopia.

Evidently, she hasn't stopped to wonder precisely how Quebec will continue as it does today without the billions of dollars the rest of Canada -- particularly conservative Alberta -- pumps into the province just to keep them in milk and honey today.

CK imagines a Quebec where that pot will almost certainly be sweetened further without the rest of Canada to subsidize it. One can only imagine how.

Perhaps she believes that Canada, following said separation of Quebec, will simply continue to be generous out of the goodness of our own hearts.

Quebec separatist leaders have certainly said as much before. During the 1995 Referendum campaign, a number of separatist leaders said they would separate from Canada without accepting their share of the national debt.

"Au revoir... et merci pour nos droits!"

And, naturally, what Canadian progressives wouldn't want to emigrate to Quebec so they can live as second-class citizens in a state that would be founded on a racial ideology? All because they can't stand the thought of having a government they disagree with for a few years?

Just fucking brilliant.

Update! Submitted for your approval:

Complete meltdown. 'Nuff said. (For now.)

There Are Some Problems Profit-Driven Aid Won't Solve

Free condoms in Africa key to halting the spread of HIV

Though the George W Bush administration of the United States offered remarkably few accomplishments that the global conservative movement can be legitimately proud of, one of the successes Bush can very much boast about is his administration's success in fighting HIV/AIDs in Africa.

Bush's Afrian HIV/AIDs initiative offered free medical treatment and HIV medications to HIV sufferers. His program gave hope to HIV patients and to their children.

However valuable Bush's initiative was, it did suffer from notable weakness: it cut funding to condom-distribution programs.

Cameron's government has produced as its first foreign aid initiative a plan to spend nearly three million Pounds Sterling to distribute condoms in Uganda.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, however, Alex Singleton casts his barbs at the HIV/AIDs initiative being prepared by British Prime Minister David Cameron's government. His criticism casts it as a hippie-esque solution to a looming epidemic, and suggests that the distribution of 45 million condoms in Uganada should instead be be profit-driven.

Singleton writes:
"No one wants HIV/AIDS to spread, but free distribution will never work. As Professor William Easterly, the eminent development economist, has argued, there’s no shortage of Coca-Cola in Africa, and condoms should be treated in the same, for-profit way."
William Easterly has been on the right track about a great many things in Africa. But on the topic of condoms, he is very clearly wrong.

There's a good reason for this: Condoms are nothing at all like Coca-Cola. Nor are they like mosquito nets. In White Man's Burden, Easterly remarks on the failure of programs to deliver free pesticide-treated mosquito nets to Africans at risk of contracting malaria from nocturnal mosquito bites.

Easterly documented cases of many of these nets simply being wasted -- in some cases being used as veils at the marriages of young African women. Easterly's argument was that programs to deliver these nets were ill-conceived, and resulted in many areas being over-supplied with mosquito nets.

In come cases, they would up in the hands of corrupt local officials who instead merely hoarded them, despite having no means to ever use them on their own.

Provided that the Tory condom plan is better designed than the mosquito net programs, one would expect that these condoms would actually reach their destination. Considering that Uganda's population is more than 31.5 million people, 45 million condoms is unlikely to over-supply Ugandan demand.

It's more likely to under supply it.

Singleton astoundingly suggests that the success many roadside vendors have had selling Coca-Cola products demonstrates that for-profit distribution of condoms will better ensure their distribution.
"Coke and other soft drinks are vital way of getting something drinkable in rural africa, and tens of thousands of entrepreneurial Africans sell them out of wooden shacks and by the side of roads. The drinks are affordable, but by charging, Africans are able to make a living distributing them."
The dubious merits of substituting Coca-Cola for fresh drinking water aside, Singleton has seemingly forgotten one of the cardinal rules of market economics: profit-seeking capital will go where there is profit to be earned.

Simply put, if there were profit in selling condoms in Africa, Sheik or Trojan would have set up shop there a long time ago. There would be no need to even consider a state-funded condom initiative in Uganda.

Singleton could certainly argue that the state could subsidize the for-profit distribution of condoms in Africa -- an option that the Conservatives may well want to explore before forging ahead with their current plan.

Moreover, as oral contraceptives do nothing to protect against the spread of HIV, a profit-driven distribution method may be more appropriate for those.

But this doesn't seem to be Singleton's option of favour. Rather, what he recommends is almost guaranteed to fail:
"The Department For International Development opposes abstinence-only AIDS-awareness programmes. Instead, it is supposed to support the ABC technique of preventing HIV – abstinence, be faithful, use a condom. But, in practice, DFID-funded projects are surprisingly quiet on the A and the B – staffed, as they are, by politically correct workers who think telling poor people to stop having sex with prostitutes and other peoples’ wives is racist."
While Singleton insists there is evidence that the acceptance of birth control by African women leads to domestic abuse (he doesn't actually site any), he conveniently ignores all the evidence that abstinence-only programs simply do not work.

People won't abstain from sex just because you tell them to. That holds no less in Africa than it does anywhere else in the world.

Former US President George W Bush laid the groundwork for significant success fighting HIV in Africa. Now, David Cameron's coalition government is prepared to fill in the missing link -- Alex Singleton's objections be damned.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Attention Members of Parliament: We Put You Into Those Seats, We Can Take You Out of Them

But Canadians shouldn't have to wait for an election to dump the incumbent

Canadians already getting fed up with the refusal of MPs to open their expense accoutns to the scrutiny of the Auditor General now have something else to fume about.

Not only does the Auditor General not have access to MPs' expense accounts, but records regarding their in-House attendance is apparently secret as well.

Canadian Taxpayers' Federation chief Kevin Gaudet puts it particularly succinctly.

“I don’t see why any of this stuff is secret,” Gaudet mused. “What is it they are hiding here?”

Canadians have the right to know.

Canadians elect Parliamentarians in expectation that they aren't merely electing that individual into a position or an office -- but that they are also, in effect, hiring them for a job. Their constituents have the right to expect that they will do that job.

For some of Canada's MPs -- the Prime Minister, cabinet, and leaders of opposition parties -- periodic absence from the House of Commons is not only acceptable, but to be expected. Often, MPs will be delegated to go abroad as part of a diplomatic or trade mission.

But for others, missing an exceptional number of sitting days should be considered grounds to recall that MP.

Unfortunately, Canada has no law enabling constituents to recall their MPs. Which is rather unfortunate.

Such a recall law would make a handy club to demand that MPs vote in accordance with the interests of their constituents. For example, constituents could demand that an MP vote in favour of a bill allowing for annual audits of MP expense accounts by the Auditor General.

If they decline to do so, or fail to show up in-House on the day of such a vote, an electoral recall could be used to replace that MP with someone prepared to act in the interests of their constituents -- and in the democratic interest.

That includes recalling MPs if Canadians consider a proroguement of Parliament to be excessive -- as many Canadians considered the 2010 proroguement to be.

It seems that many of Canada's Members of Parliament very much have forgotten that Canada's Parliament does not belong to them alone. While Canada's Parliament once effectively belonged to the monarch, it now belongs to the people.

It does not belong, and has never belonged, to the MPs themselves.

It's time to demand an electoral recall law so Canadians will have the tools to remind them of that little detail.

Obama's "New International Order" Swimming Against the Current

US President to depend on corrupted internatnional institutions

Speaking recently at West Point, US President Barack Obama has promised that his administrations's first national security strategy will foster a "new international order" in which international institutions will be used en lieu of American power to solve global problems.

"The international order we seek is one that can resolve the challenges of our times," Obama announced. "Countering violent extremism and insurgency; stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and securing nuclear materials; combating a changing climate and sustaining global growth; helping countries feed themselves and care for their sick; preventing conflict and healing its wounds."

Obama promises this shift as the international system rejects portions of the global left-wing agenda. In particular, the international bank tax will almost certainly be a no-go.

Obama promises a national security strategy that will renounce the Bush doctrine of preemptive war and the will to consider the option of unilateral action. (Not necessarily unilateralism, but unilateralism if necessary.)

Instead, Obama will re-invest faith in international institutions like the United Nations, even despite the numerous and increasing failures of the UN.

"Yes, we are clear-eyed about the shortfalls of our international system," Obama insisted. "But America has not succeeded by stepping outside the currents of international cooperation. We have succeeded by steering those currents in the direction of liberty and justice - so nations thrive by meeting their responsibilities, and face consequences when they don't."

Unfortuantely, the kind of soft power foreign policy that Obama has intended his intention to defer to is remarkably inept at applying consequences to countries that fail to meet their responsibilities.

The genocide in Darfur continues unabated. Iran continues to violate human rights, while while disgustingly managing to procure a seat on the UN Commission for the Status of Women. North Korea sinks South Korean warships with what will eventually amount to full impunity. Climate scientists are revealled to have polluted the scientific process -- right down to their prized process of peer review -- to advance a politicized climate change agenda. Poverty in the developing world continues to run rampant despite the expenditure of trillions of dollars to solve the problem.

This is the international system that Obama intends to so thoroughly defer to.

It is a system that has been fundamentally corrupted, and may need to be razed from the top down so that they may be rebuilt from the ground up.

The UN has become an agent of a global statism that has not only lost influence among the G20 countries that it needs in order to advance such an agenda, but lost any semblence of moral authority it could ever lay claim to.

Like so many of the plans on Barack Obama's agenda, his "new international order" desperately needs to go back to the drawing board and consider global realiteis before implimentation.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Segal Out of Place as Head of Anti-Terror Committee

Hugh Segal elected to chair Senate committee on anti-terror laws

Conservative Senator Hugh Segal has been elected to chair a special Senate committee on anti-terror laws. The committee will examine two anti-terror bills, including Bill C-17, which will restore anti-terror laws that sunsetted in 2007.

"It was an act to amend the Criminal Code with respect to investigative hearings," Segal explained. "Whether somebody could be held because there was a suspicion that they had either been involved in a terrorist act, or had information about a coming terrorist act, and what were their rights in that process, and what were the rights of the Crown."

In order to make decisions regarding the legislation, the committee will investigate the overall terrorism situation in Canada.

"We're going to be working on an update of what is the state of the terrorist threat in Canada (and) how has that threat changed in the last five years," Segal explained.

Segal has proven to be an adept thinker on numerous policy issues. But terrorism-related issues isn't one of his strengths.

Pierre Trudeau's decision to invoke the War Measures Act during the October Crisis of 1970 has been a controversial one in Canadian history. Segal, who was a student at the University of Ottawa at the time, has been an outspoken critic of that decision.

The limitation of civil rights is not a matter to be taken lightly at any time. But the kidnapping of British Trade Commissioner James Cross and Pierre Laporte, a Quebec cabinet Minister, limited Trudeau's options in responding to the crisis.

Invoking the War Measures Act was a necessary part of the response to the threat posed by the FLQ. It introduced a crucial element of control into the situation, allowing the government to account for the activities of FLQ sympathizers who may have aided the terrorists.

The crus of the matter was, of course, that the Trudeau government had, through its own negligence, allowed the situation to grow out of control.

Unless Segal's views on the October Crisis have changed drastically in short order, it may not be unreasonable to suggest that Segal isn't up to the task of making decisions in regards to terrorism -- particularly when Segal himself seems to understand that the nature of current terrorist threats represents a more fractious, less centralized structure.

"We now face a threat that is more diffuse, in other words it's not somebody in a cave sending instructions to cells around the world," Segal said. "But rather self-identifying cells of individuals deciding they are frustrated with this, that or other, and they want to use terrorism as a means of making their point."

In his favaour, Segal seems to understand that the government cannot afford to repeat the preemptive failures of the Trudeau government.

"When you have individuals who [are] more than prepared to die, then that of course provides a preventative challenge," Segal declared. "So it changes the dynamic of the challenge and makes it more complex, all the more reason to make sure we're doing it in the best possible way."

But while Hugh Segal may be more than willing to do what is necessary to prevent terrorist attacks, he needs to show concerned parties that he's willing to do what is necessary if those preventative measures fail.

Otherwise, his chairing the Senate committee on anti-terrorism is a mistake.

France Set to Get Tough on Debt

Nicolas Sarkozy proposes debt-limiting constitution

As Europe desperately attempts to stave off a complete economic collapse precipitated by the fiscal irresponsibility of the Greek government -- possibly to be followed by the Italian, Spanish and Irish governments -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy has reiterated his commitment to limiting France's public debt.

Sarkozy is prepared to go so far as to amend France's constitution. The propsed amendment would require any French government that runs a deficit to commit to a five-year plan to balance the budget and pay off the debt.

"Without budgetary adjustment, our growth and our social model are threatened," Sarkozy explained. "That is what lies behind the decisions I have presented."

Not only is Sarkozy proposing to constitutionally mandate fiscal responsibility, he's also moved to set a strong example. His government will reduce France's deficit to 6% of its Gross Domestic Product in 2011, and to 4.6% in 2012.

"From 2011 onwards, we will rigidly strengthen spending controls, we will not allow ourselves any generalized rises in taxes, we will go at the pace of the economic recovery and will pursue reforms that will put growth back on its feet," Sarkozy announced. "It's not austerity, nor is it laxity, but responsibility."

Sarkozy is apparently prepared to be as tough as he needs to be with the kind of spending reductions necessary to make his fiscal reforms possible. Overall spending on health insurance will be limited to 3% of GDP in 2010. That's reduced from 3.3% in 2009.

Sarkozy is likely responding to pressure from German Chancellor Angela Merkel for other countries to adopt measures similar to Germany's balanced budget law.

The cuts will be difficult to make in a country with a traditionally high unemployment rate, but Sarkozy's promised constitutional commitment to lower taxes could, in time, lead to the kind of economic growth necessary to reduce that historical trend.

France's example will be one for the rest of Europe to follow -- if they can only get a grip of the Kanellos' of the militant left.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Why the Mainstream Media Should Never Use TPM as a Source

North American Union disappears down the memory hole

Those paying attention to the mainstream media (smearjob) coverage of Rand Paul's bid to win election to the US Senate may have noticed a rather peculiar thing regarding coverage of Paul's comments on the North American Union.

Notably, that they site Talking Points Memo as a source:
Using TPM as a source without fact-checking is a serious mistake.

As it turns out, one only needs to look to the Canadian "no deep integreation with the US" movement to realize that it wasn't merely Paul that shared concerns about some of the things that were being discussed.

Rather, it seems that opposition to the various "North American Union" initiatives was actually quite commonplace across ideological divisions.

The only mistake Paul actually makes is when he insists that those possibly planning such a superhighway were open about everything they were planning. Rather, the movers and shakers behind such initiatives were anything but open.

In fact, whenever political and business leaders have met to plan such initiatives as the Security and Prosperity Partnership, these meetings were conducted entirely in secret.

The reasons for this are just as likely to be due to security concerns as they were to a desire for secrecy -- although many participants at these meetings noted that some of the things under discussion would likely be unpalatable to the citizens of the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Under the Obama administration, the US government quietly shelved the SPP in 2009.

The ideologically- and politically-motivated community that convenes around TPM are treating these Rand Paul/Ron Paul revelations as quite a prized find. The clear intent is to pass Rand Paul off as a conspiracy nut.

The problem is that in order to do this, they have to flush a great deal of publicly verifiable facts, as well as left-wing NAU conspiracy theories, down the memory hole.

It's unlikely that the general public will ever know about all of the proposals discussed at these meetings regarding North American integration. It wouldn't be shocking to many to discover that projects such as a North American super-autobahn were dicussed.

Projects such as the Texas Corridor could certainly facilitate such projects as a series of North American trunk highways -- a Mexico-city to Toronto super-autobahn being part of such a development. Likewise, efforts to further open North American borders to facilitate the movement of people and commodities between the three countries could progress toward a virtually borderless continent.

In another time and place it would be the TPM community that would be denouncing these kinds of projects as leading to the loss of the individual sovereignty of the three countries.

After all, they continue to oppose NAFTA to the extent that Barack Obama felt he could politically benefit by pandering to them with a possible NAFTA abrogation.

But when they suddenly have the opportunity to benefit ideologically and politically from mocking such notions, it all goes down the memory hole.

And this is what the mainstream media is evidently using as its sources -- not wise.

The Challenges Faced by Politically Active Moderate Muslims

Rushanara Ali targetted by Muslim extremists

Rushanara Ali recently captured some headlines when she became the first Bangladeshi-British MP. She won the riding of Benthal Green and Bow, which had previously been held by George Galloway.

Now Ali is learning the hard way the price of being a moderate Muslim who is politically active: It attracts the attention of Islamic extremists.

On the website for the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, Muslim extremists posted comments describing her as a "sinner" who is "without morals or manners".

Among their grievances against Ali is her decision to decline to wear a Hijab, a headscarf.

To date, the attacks on Ali have been restricted to online comments. But Bentham Green and Bow has but one riding between it and the riding of East Ham, where a woman dressed in a Hijab stabbed MP Stephen Timms.

Details about the motives of Timm's assailant has yet to be released publicly, so it would be premature to say that Islamic extremism motivated her attack. But the combination of culturally conservative Muslims hectoring a secularist Muslim MP for not being religious enough for them and a woman who clearly shares their convictions nearly murdering another MP is unsettling, if not outright suggestive.

One can hope that Ali herself will not be subjected to any violence.

But these kinds of attacks are commonplace on politically active Muslim moderates -- particularly women. Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto was often accused of being an infidel -- and Bhutto publicly wore a Hijab.

In the case of Bhutto, Islamic extremists translated their criticisms of her perceived impiety into numerous bomb attacks -- the last of which was, sadly, fatal.

The loss of Benazir Bhutto was a loss to the entire world. Her vision of Islam was one wherein democracy and human rights were mandated by the Koran. Her death deprived the world of a much-needed prophetic Muslim moderate.

There is nothing prophetic about the distinctly secularist Rushanara Ali, so to hold her up to be a successor to Bhutto would be giving her some intensely large shoes to fill.

But Ali is learning the hard way -- if she didn't know already -- what kind of price is demanded by Islamic extremists from politically-active moderate Muslims.

One can only hope -- for the sake of moderate Muslims like her -- that she's willing to pay the price. Likewise, one hopes that she'll never be at risk of paying the ultimate price.

Ed Miliband Drives Spear Into HIs Brother's Heart

Younger Miliband brother playing for keeps

When Ed Miliband followed his older brother, David Miliband, into the Labour leadership race, their mother Marion Kozak, must have been hoping for a tame contest.

With Ed Miliband's recent denunciation of Britain's participation in the Iraq War, any hopes of that have likely faded. Ed Miliband has introduced what will be the greatest wedge issue between himself and his older brother.

"As we all know, the basis for going to war was on the basis of Saddam's threat in terms of weapons of mass destruction and therefore that is why I felt the weapons inspectors should have been given more time to find out whether he had those weapons, and Hans Blix – the head of the UN weapons inspectorate – was saying that he wanted to be given more time," Miliband the younger announced. "The basis for going to war was the threat that he posed."

"The combination of not giving the weapons inspectors more time, and then the weapons not being found, I think for a lot of people it led to a catastrophic loss of trust for us, and we do need to draw a line under it," he continued.

In making the Iraq War a key issue in the Labour leadership contest, Ed Milibad also makes the Blair Doctrine a key issue.

The Blair Doctrine, simply described, reflected Tony Blair's belief that military intervention is often necessary in order to achieve humanitarian ends.

The Blair Doctrine represents an overly moralistic take on neo-conservative thinking in regards to foreign policy. Neo-conservative thinking recommends the diligent confrontation of known threats; Blair's variation of this notion recommends the diligent confrontation of humanitarian dangers.

While George W Bush's official pretext for the Iraq War depended heavily on the presence of weapons of mass destruction -- which, even if Hussein didn't possess them, he was certainly seeking them. Blair's official pretext relied on this as well, but a global do-gooder philosophy weighed heavily on the decision.

Not only is David Miliband perceived as being much closer to Tony Blair than his brother Ed is, but as Foreign Secretary Miliband had key responsibilities for the prosecution of the Iraq War. Miliband the younger carries no such baggage.

However, the older Miliband will also be able to boast involvement with the decision to end British combat operations in Iraq. Moreover, while the older Miliband was involved in managing the last years of that combat mission, he had no significant role in the decision to go to war there.

Naturally, David Miliband doesn't want Iraq to be at issue in this leadership campaign.

"While Iraq was a source of division in the past, it doesn't need to be a source of division in the future," he announced. "Iraq was a big issue at the 2005 general election but the vast majority of MPs and candidates I have spoken to this time say that while it was a big issue then it was much less of an issue in 2010."

"I said during the election campaign that I thought it was time to move on," he added.

Ed Miliband clearly has little intention of moving on from the Iraq War -- just yet. But while invoking the Iraq War will certainly help to divide Labour voters from his older brother, he isn't the only candidate to denoucne the war. Ed Balls and John McDonnell have also spoken out against the war.

While the war will divide Labour voters against his brother, that portion will likely splinter between the three candidates -- and a significant porton of them will look toward Balls as their candidate of choice.

Whether Ed Miliband envoking the Iraq war will lead to hard feelings between himself and Miliband the elder will be a matter for the private lives of the two brothers.

But foreign policy will be a key challenge for the Labour Party moving forward. The leadership campaign would have been remiss without addressing it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tom Lucero Defeated in Congressional Bid

Cory Gardner wins Republican nomination in Colorado

Running as an underdog candidate in the race for the Republican nomination for Congress in Colorado's 4th District, Tom Lucero needed an edge.

Lucero must have thought that he had found an edge by running on his role in the firing of University of Colorado Professor Ward Churchill. Churchill was fired for multiple cases of academic misconduct in an investigation that followed the publishing of his infamous "little Eichmanns" essay.

By running on his role in that affair, Lucero was effectively running against Churchill rather than his opponents in the race. That may have been a mistake, as Cory Gardner was the only candidate to surpass the 30% of votes cast to appear on the ballot at the Republican GOP's nomination meeting.

Gardner received the votes of 61% of those who cast ballots in the preliminary vote. Lucero received 19%, third to Dean Madere who received 20%.

It's unfortunate for Lucero and for the Republican Party. With issues pertaining to education coming to the forefront in the lead-up to the 2010 midterm elections, Lucero could have emerged as a star candidate for the GOP.

Lucero's role in the firing of Churchill would have resonated clearly within a party in which the topic of university Ethnic Studies programs has become something of a cause celibre.

At least Lucero's seat on the U of C Board of Regents will remain in Republican hands. No Democrats have filed candidacy papers in the district.

Gardner, on the other hand, seems to be the annointed cabinet by the Republican National Committee. Although Gardner has been critical of RNC Chairman Michael Steele even though the party has aided him through its "Young Guns Program".

Gardner has been electorally successful in Colorado, as he currently serves in the Colorado State House of Representatives. He serves as minority whip.

In Democrat Betsy Markey, Gardner will set his sights on an vulnerable incumbent who recently received some help from Vice President Joe Biden.

Even though Colorado Republicans didn't recognize the potential star candidate value of Tom Lucero, it won't require a major upset for Cory Gardner to win Colorado's 4th District come November.

Ed Miliband to Come Up the Middle?

Labour may ditch Blair/Brown baggage with compromise candidate

With the slate of candidates for the Labour leadership contest filling up, David Miliband remains the odds-on favourite to win. Ed Balls seems to be viewed as the number two man in the race.

But as Andrew Grice suggests, the dynamics that are so often at play in political leadership contests may give the winning edge to a third candidate: Ed Miliband.

As Grice notes, David Miliband was a staunch supporter of Tony Blair. In turn, Blair helped champion his careeer. Ed Balls is a close contemporary of Gordon Brown who, in Paul Martin-esque fashion, applied relentless pressure to help spur Blair's departure from office.

Balls will be saddled with memories of that relentless push.

Like any political party in need of unity, Labour members would very much like to put the Blair/Brown divide behind them.

For Ed Miliband, matters are rather different. He isn't seen as particularly close to Blair or Brown, despite having served in Brown's cabinet.

The differences between the two Milibands also seem be paramount in the minds of Ed Miliband's supporters.

"Ed Miliband's supporters do not like comparing him to his brother and there is a noticeable absence of war (and major policy differences)," Grice writes. "When pressed, they say David offers brains without charisma while Ed offers both and can therefore reconnect with Labour's lost supporters while uniting the party."

"Ed Miliband's critics claim he lacks the experience or instant judgement to handle unexpected events and would offer compromises rather than strong leadership – more Neil Kinnock (one of his main sponsors) than Mr Blair," Grice continues. "Mr Brown is said to have described Ed Miliband as 'a cross between an academic and a preacher'. Quite a lot of Labour members may like the sermon."

Last but not least, the preferential ballotting system used in Labour Party leadership votes may facilitate the younger Miliband in emerging as a compromise between his older brother and Ed Balls.

While Labour could stand to break from the bitter divisiveness of the Blair/Brown struggles, it would adopt a risk in electing Ed Miliband as a figure of compromise.

Compromise candidates are often perceived by the public as not having been fully imparted with their authority by the party membership.

For a party coming off of a catastrophic election loss, that could prove to be even more devastating than the loss itself. The Labour Party will need to weigh its options very carefully before making that kind of decision. Unfortunately, the preferential ballot may actually deprive them of the opportunity to do that.

A Question of Clarity

In part three of The Champions, Pierre Trudeau's temporary retirement from, and sudden return to, politics quickly gives way to discussion regarding the question that would be asked during the 1980 referendum.

In the end, the question that emerged was not one explicitly about separation, but rather one that asked for a mandate to negotiate sovereignty accompanied by political and economic "association" with the rest of Canada. What emerged was not a notion of sovereignty, but rather the nebulous term of "sovereignty association".

Moreoever, the 1980 referendum promised a second one to ratify whatever agreement Rene Levesque's government could reach with the rest of Canada.

The necessity of such a referendum at all was questioned by many, and with good reason. Quebec's government already had the authority to negotiate nearly anything that it liked with the federal goernment, and with Canada's other provinces.

Pierre Trudeau, who had previously declared Quebec separatism to be dead, didn't intervene until late into the referendum campaign, when it became apparent that Quebec Liberal leader Claude Ryan proved incapable of leading the fight.

Ryan's rejection of political polling was particularly troubling, and led to future Prime Minister Jean Chretien -- who had experience in both federal and provincial politics -- was dispatched to attempt to save the day.

But the absense of Trudeau and his government from the matter of the referendum question was as much a tactical error as entrusting the campaign to Ryan, or Chretien's decision to stay out of the 1995 referendum campaign until late in the contest.

Allowing the referendum question to be decided largely without input from the federal government produced two very problematic questions, one that left many Quebeckers unsure of what they were voting on, and many more deceived.

Eventually, Stephane Dion, under Chretien's leadership, produced the Clarity Act in 1999 -- four years after an ambigious question nearly dismembered Canada during the 1995 referendum, and nearly twenty years after the government should have been involved in the first place.

Moreoever, even in passing the Clarity Act, the Liberals were too late even to that topic. The central ideas of the Clarity Act were effectively lifted out of a previous bill, defeated by the Liberals, introduced by then-Reform Party MP and now Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

While the Liberal Party has long awarded themselves credit for the defeat of the two referendums, they have long evaded the blame for how their complacency on the matter nearly destroyed Canada.

The clarity question could have decided the question of Quebec separatism long before it grew into a decisive theat to Canada.

Friday, May 21, 2010

If You Don't Like It, Elect It

NDP objects to appointment of high-rolling Tory donor to Senate

The Conservative caucus in the Senate has remained stable, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed BC Lions owner David Braley to the upper chamber.

Braley joins Conservative Senator Jacques Demers among the roster of sporting figures who seem to have no business whatsoever in the Senate.

The Liberal Party and the NDP quickly vented their outrage at the appointment, noting that Braley donated $99,000 to the Conservative Party prior to the ban on corporate donations.

“It appears that the reason why he was appointed was because of close to $100,000 worth of donations to Conservatives in recent times,” complained Liberal MP Marlene Jennings. “I think it shows Mr Harper’s extreme cynicism, with regards to Parliament, the value of our constitutional parliamentary democracy, and to Canadians in general.”

One would think it were the first time that a party crony had ever been appointed to the Senate. One would think that the Liberals hadn't done it before, dozens of times.

Braley himself hasn't been shy about his donations to the Tories. It's no secret.

“There’s nothing wrong with donations," he insisted. "I was supporting what I believed in and it worked.”

“There’s no question. I had a very strong inclination toward the Conservative Party,” he concluded.

Paul Dewar took the point on the issue for the NDP.

“You can’t just keep appointing Conservative friends to the Senate and say you are doing things differently,” he said.

The problem for Paul Dewar and the NDP is that Harper and the Conservatives would very much like to do things differently. Unfortunately, the opposition insists on playing games with Senate reform. When Conservative bills are passed in the House of Commons, the formerly-Liberal-dominated Senate holds it up. When the legislation is introduced in the Senate following the Conservative achievement of a plurality, the opposition muses about blocking it in the House of Commons.

The David Braley appointment is cronyism. There's no doubt about it, and even Braley himself seems to implicitly admit it.

But there's clearly a method to this: Prime Minister Harper clearly intends to provoke enough outrage about his own partisan appointments that public support for Senate reform -- term limits, and advisory elections -- will strengthen.

It's a far-superior option to the NDP agenda on the Senate. The NDP wishes to abolish the Senate rather than see it reformed. For whatever purposes they want to abolish it, it isn't quite clear.

If Harper and the Conservatives can successfully make the status quo in regards to the Senate intolerable, a great many Canadians will thank him for the gift of a stronger democracy.

All they have to do is pay the price first.

Labour Leadership Race Getting Crowded

With the Labour Party extending the deadline for would-be leaders to declare their candidacy, the race to become the successor to former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has gotten crowded.

It may get more crowded yet.

The campaign started slowly, with the Miliband brothers, David and Ed, declaring their candidacy. They have since been followed by Ed Balls, Andy Burnham, John McDonnell, and Diane Abbott.

Abbott is the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington. In 1987 Abbott was the first black woman elected to the British House of Commons. Abbott is a second-generation Birton born to Jamaican immigrants. She has also contributed her talents to the Jamaica Observer newspaper.

Although Abbott, 56, was a member of the National Council for Civil Liberties, where she worked alongside former Labour Cabinet Ministers Paul Boateng, Harriet Harman and Patricia Hewitt, Abbot has no Ministerial experience -- likely a handicap in the contest.

John McDonnell, 58, is the MP for Hayes and Harlington. He chairs the Socialist Campaign Group, a group by the name of Public Services Not Private, and the Labour Representation Committee. He also serves a group of eight large labour unions as their benefactor in Parliament.

McDonnell will likely be the left-wing standard-bearer of the leadership campaign. Among his acts as a left-wing insurgent within the Labour caucus has been joining together with a number of Plaid Cymru MPs to demand an inquiry into the Iraq War that his own party initiated.

One could expect that a McDonnell victory would be the prelude to a significant leftward shift for Labour Party policy.

Leigh MP Andy Burnham, 40, seems to be the heavyweight of the newcomers. He has served as Secretary of State for Health, Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, and as Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Burnham joined Labour at the tender age of 14, in protest to the Thatcher government's treatment of miners.

However, Burnham was also hit by the recent controversy over MPs' expenses. He attempted to claim 16,000 Pounds Sterling in expenses for a home he had been renovating in London. He submitted the claim on numerous occasions. It was rejected each time.

Whether or not the Labour Party manages to attract additional leadership candidates, the stage has been set for an intriguing leadership campaign.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Time to Release Tommy Douglas RCMP File is Now

CSIS refusal to relinquish Tommy Douglas files dubious at best

Writing for the National Post Full Comment, John Baglow -- whose knee-jerk defenses of the most vile indulgences of the far left -- writes about the refusal of CSIS to divulge the files the RCMP compiled on former (and original) NDP leader Tommy Douglas under a freedom of inormation request.

CSIS is refusing to release the files under the auspices of national security. This lacks credulity.

But those who believe the Douglas files will feature any shocking revelations will be sorely disappointed.

Regardless of what Douglas' RCMP file contains, one thing will be certain: it will be a product of its time.

Douglas rose to political prominence at a time when Soviet communism seemed to be an omnipresent threat. Although the Soviet Union would formally be Canada's ally during the war against Nazi Germany -- a war that Douglas, at odds with his pacifist colleagues in the CCF courageously supported -- Canadians of varying political stripes were aware of the threat communism posed.

This included the thousands of citizens of Saskatchewan of Ukrainian descent, many of whom immigrated to Saskatchewan fleeing from Soviet communism and the Holodomor perpetrated by Joseph Stalin the Soviet state.

Adherents to the Greek Orthodox Church proved to be as asiduously opposed to Douglas and the CCF agenda as the Catholic Church and Mennonites. Their suspicion of the CCF brand of socialism did not fester unaided.

The Liberal Party of James Garfield Gardiner exploited Canadian horror at Soviet communism by insisting that the CCF would impliment a similar system in Saskatchewan. The Gardiner Liberals insisted that the CCF would confiscate farms, homes, and the life savings of individuals. They also insisted the CCF would close pubs and churches.

After leaving provincial politics for federal politics -- joining William Lyon MacKenzie King's government as the Minister of Agriculture -- Gardiner worked for the federal Liberals as their Saskatchewan lieutenant. He continued to apply his bag of political tricks -- which reputed to include hiding prohibited alcohol in the homes of political opponents then calling the police -- as a member of King's cabinet, then as a member of St Laurent's government.

It isn't at all unthinkable to suspect that Gardiner may have had a hand in at least the RCMP's post-war attentions to Douglas. Furthermore, it would be interesting to see if Douglas' CSIS file contains what could be the first substantial evidence of Gardiner's alleged trickery.

(Then again, considering how smooth an operator history reputes Gardiner to have been, it would be foolish to bank on it. And while John Diefenbaker would smile from beyond the grave, he'll have to save that smirk -- perhaps indefinitely.)

Looking back on Canadian history, it's easy to underestimate the urgency many Canadians felt in opposing communism. While the Communist Party of Canada only ever elected a single MP -- Fred Rose, whose tenure in Parliament was ended by a prison sentence for non-specific charges filed against him in the wake of the Gouzenko revelation.

The Gouzenko affair underscored for Canadians the breadth and depth of the Communist threat, and the pall of suspicion cast by the affair wasn't restricted to Fred Rose. It was also borne by Tommy Douglas and the CCF.

Whatever national security value the RCMP files on Douglas may hold would very likely be tenuous at best. If the files actually are so sensitive, CSIS will need to make its reasoning clear.

(It would be difficult to believe that the RCMP hasn't altered the methods by which it monitors suspected subversives -- be they suspected terrorists or suspected revolutionaries -- in more than 60 years. If the RCMP hasn't, that is a problem in and of itself.

Anyone intending to use the RCMP's Douglas files to retro-actively indict Canadian government or Canadian law enforcement will be sorely disappointed. The RCMP files on Tommy Douglas will inevitably reflect their day and age.

Using those documents to judge the Canada of the 1940s, 50s and 60s will prove untenable. One cannot reasonably judge a country under the threat of communist subversion by the standards of a time when the country is under no risk of it.

Balls Deep for Labour Leadership

Ed Balls declares candidacy for Labour leadership

Youth is clearly the flavour of the campaign to replace Gordon Brown as the leader of the Labour Party.

David Miliband is 45 years old. His brother Ed is 40.

The newest candidate to declare for the Labour leadership, Ed Balls, finds himself in the middle at 43 years of age.

As leader, Balls would seek to build a party that listens to the people of Britain.

"I think it's really important we don't just talk to ourselves, we've got to go out and hear what the public say," Balls declared. If Labour had listened to its supporters, Balls seems to contend that it may not have suffered its recent defeat.

Perhaps Labour would have recognized what Balls contends to be a shift away from traditional Labour policy.

"I believe [New Labour] lost the moral basis of the Labour Party as it was founded ... the creation of a fair and just and peaceful and equal society," Balls remarked.

Balls, the Miliband brothers and any as-yet-uncontested candidates will compete for the leadership of the Labour Party over a four month period. Labour will decide the leadership on September 14, 2010.

The only thing that marks the difference between what this leadership contest is and what would have transpired had the party won the May 6 election is that the party would have been choosing not only a new party leader, but a new Prime Minister.

Gordon Brown had intended to resign as Labour leader within a year of the election.

So in the long run, this leadership contest means very little for Labour. Ed Balls will have to work very hard to be the one of this to-date young lot to emerge as the new Labour leader.