Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Justin Trudeau & the Death of the Natural Governing Party

Trudeau looking for light at the end of the tunnel

According to the most recent polls, if the 2011 election were held today, the Liberal Party would narrowly come in third behind the Conservatives and the NDP.

This should be a deep existential moment for many Liberal Party partisans, who have, even in their numerous defeats over the past few years, never managed to disabuse themselves of the delusion they are the natural governing party of Canada.

But according to Justin Trudeau, that may be changing.

According to Trudeau, the idea of the Liberal Party as the "natural governing party" is dead, especially among Liberals.

"The idea of a natural governing party was one tossed around more by our opponents than by any Liberals themselves, but perhaps there were a few Liberals who started to believe it and sat back and rested easy," Trudeau suggested. "Honestly, we're having a little bit of trouble connecting with voters."

Anyone who has spent more than a few minutes talking with a Liberal partisan would be surprised to hear that the "natural governing party" is more of a preoccupation of their opponents.

"What I see right now, especially here in Quebec, is good news that an awful lot of Canadians, an awful lot of Quebecers, have decided to put aside their allegiance to the Bloc Quebecois and are open to voting for someone else," Trudeau declared.

Trudeau naturally omits a very notable detail: that the decline of the Bloc Quebecois in Quebec has coincided with the decline of the Liberal Party federally. The Liberal Party has never quite been the same in Quebec since Trudeau's father, Pierre Trudeau, re-patriated the Constitution without Quebec's consent. Even when the Quebec Liberal party governs, their federal counterpart continues to struggle.

"People are turning towards anti-parties," Trudeau suggested. "I'm hoping and expecting that on May 2, Canadians will turn and say it's not enough to just protest against Mr Harper because Mr Harper will remain prime minister, we're better off replacing him by choosing a party that actually wields the confidence of Canadians in government."

What Trudeau doesn't seem to understand is that, at face value, the emerging figures in Quebec seem to suggest that the anti- vote in Quebec is the anti-Liberal vote.

This is probably one of the reasons why it took a split in conservative voting for the Liberals to be successful in the 1990s (although, to be fair, the small-c conservative vote has always split between the Liberal Party and the Tories). Without a leading stake in Quebec, and against united conservative opponents, the Liberals find it exceedingly difficult to govern.

It's led to the ultimate death of the Liberal Party as the "natural governing party". But this is actually for the best. For Canadian democracy to remain strong, the last thing Canada needs is a "natural governing party".

Ruby Dhalla Outhustled, Complains About It

Dhalla objects to Tory candidate helping immigrants

According to Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla, something rotten is afoot in Brampton-Springdale; it's Conservative candidate Parm Gill.

Dhalla is upset that Gill has been extending his help to local immigrant families, helping them fill out the applications necessary to help their family members move to Canada.

"In those cases the families have been called before even I was notified, that had they had been accepted and approved by the minister's office and they were called by Parm Gill," Dhalla complained.

She alleges that her constituents are unwilling to come forward because of some form of intimidation. (Which seems strangely at odds with what the facts seem to be. Helping people get their family into Canada is an odd form of intimidation.)

For Jason Kenney's part, he suggests Dhalla is largely fabricating her concerns.

"That's completely ridiculous, you know, she's a Liberal MP who's under a lot of pressure, and of course she's going to make unfounded and ridiculous accusations," Kenney declared. He also suggests Dhalla does a poor job of serving her constituents.

"It's because they can't get any service from their member of Parliament and that's one of the reasons why I think Parm Gill should be elected member of Parliament for Brampton-Springdale," Kenney declared.

"Mr Gill has every right as a private citizen to provide volunteer unpaid advice," Kenney continued. "I understand he has taken no payment for that. He has never claimed to represent the government or me, but he's just providing a volunteer service and that's totally legitimate."

It's not over in Brampton yet. Dhalla -- who was also the MP behind a ludicrously-irresponsible bill that would have granted pension benefits to immigrants after they'd been in Canada for only three years -- has spent a great deal of time pandering to the immigrant community in her riding. Even if she's done a poor job of serving her constituents, she may yet be able to win reelection based on that pandering.

So even though Ruby Dhalla got outhustled in her own riding, she may yet outrun her principal opponent.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Jack Layton For Leader of the Opposition

...lined up against a Harper majority

Ever since Prime Minister Stephen Harper led the Conservative Party to power in 2006, one word has been considered scandalous if so much as uttered by a Conservative:


This has, of course, been driven as much by Liberal panic-mongering as anything else. But now, with the 2011 federal election steadily slipping away from the Liberals, they're working as hard as they can to make a certain word scandalous if so much as uttered by the NDP:

Leader. As in, "of the Opposition".

Following what appeared to be stagnating numbers early in the campaign, the NDP surge -- particularly in Quebec -- has had tongues wagging across Canada.

Michael Ignatieff, for one, is not happy about it.

"Come on, folks, let's be serious," Ignatieff implored. "We've got to choose a government on the 2nd of May; we can't choose a bunch of Boy Scouts on this issue."

Which is actually rather ironic when you think about it: Ignatieff and his fellow opposition leaders essentially told the Canadian public that they toppled the Harper government because they weren't Boy Scouts.

According to Ignatieff, what matters is that Canadians vote for the Liberals in order to avoid returning Stephen Harper to power.

"If you vote for Mr Layton, you're going to get a Harper minority government." Ignatieff forecasted. "If you vote for Mr Duceppe, you're going to get a Harper minority government."

Which, again, is funny when you think about it. To most people, Quebeckers shouldn't vote for the Bloc Quebecois because they're separatists. To Ignatieff, it's because not Quebeckers voting for the Bloc is good for him.

It's the kind of sentiment that gives ample cause for doubt about whether or not Ignatieff is fit to continue as Leader of the Opposition.

But while Ignatieff's stock is fading, another opposition leader continues to gather momentum in the leadership department. And, no, it isn't Gilles Duceppe.

That leader is Jack Layton. Speaking recently on the campaign trail, Layton indicated sound juggment on a matter of intense importance to Canadians: the Constitution.

Layton indicated that he would be open to re-opening the Constitution in order to secure Quebec's assent to that document. And as opposed to Pierre Trudeau, who rammed the Constitution through while a separatist government was in power in Quebec, Layton wants to wait until "the winning conditions for Canada in Quebec" exist.

Needless to say, Layton is gambling. Canadians don't exactly look back on the last rounds of Constitutional wranglings -- the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords -- with fond memories.

Yet Layton is clearly well-attuned to the problems the state of Canada's Constitution -- with Quebec not a signatory to that document -- pose to the country.

"What we're saying is that at some point in the future the whole issue of the fact that Quebec hasn't signed on to our Constitution has got to be dealt with," Layton remarked. "But the first step is getting rid of the Stephen Harper government and putting in place a government that can actually work with not only the people of Quebec, but right across the country, and stop this division that we've been getting for far too long."

Quebec isn't the only waning hole in the country's Constitutional unity. Canada's First Nations have yet to achieve a satisfactory position within the British North America Act.

But if Layton is going to be involved in Constitutional negotiations, it's imperative that those negotiations take place under a Conservative government. If Layton is able to direct such constitutional discussions from the driver's seat, God only knows what kind of disaster will ensue.

One could rest assured that Layton would do everything he can to institutionalize some rather extreme leftist principles in the Constitution. The idea of Libby Davies with a pen at the Constitutional table should send a chill down the spines of any thinking Canadian. (Read: not the kind who vote for Davies.)

All this being said, the Constitution is a key issue for Canada, whether Canadians welcome it or not. Jack Layton's understanding of this is another key marker demonstrating that he's ready to sit in the Opposition's big chair.

Jack Layton would make an excellent Leader of the Opposition... opposing a Stephen Harper majority government.

Conservatives Earning Support on Israel Issue

Under Tories, Canada a loyal ally to Jewish state

Canadians of many political inclinations often express concern at election time that foreign policy is not prominent enough at election time.

This election, it has taken turns at centre stage. But in many ridings, such as Ken Dryden's riding of York Centre, foreign policy -- particularly pertaining to Israel -- is rarely far from the forefront.

In Toronto-area riding York Centre, the Liberal vote has largely been about two groups: the Italian vote and the Jewish vote.

"The biggest change that's happened is that at one time, there were two very strong Liberal supporting communities in this riding, one was the Italian community and the other was the Jewish community," Dryden remarked. "The Italian community is still strong for the most part in supporting the Liberals and the Jewish community, many of them have shifted and are supporting the Conservatives."

As noted here previously, some of that shift can be attributed to dirty campaigning by the Conservatives. There's no reason whatsoever to write the Tories a free pass for it.

But some of that shift can be attributed to the fact that the Conservatives are earning that support by virtue of strong policy on Israel.

The fact that the Conservative Party policy on Israel -- namely, that Canada will support its allies instead of remaining silent when it matters -- appeals to the people who understand best precisely how important Israel is.

This isn't to say that the Liberal Party has, by any means, entirely derelicted the Israel issue. It was a Liberal Party government that outlawed Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations in Canada. That clearly counts.

But so does moral support when Israel acts to defend itself. This is something the Liberals proved far less willing to provide. For example, in 2006, after Israel had moved to protect itself from attacks by Hezbollah, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff accused Israel of "war crimes". He later apologized for the remark. Two years later.

By the same mark, Prime Minister Stephen Harper declared Israel's response to be "a measured response". Which, regardless of the outrage of the far-left, it was.

In 2006, Israel was actually discharging its responsibilities under the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, which basically states that the sovereignty of states is dependent on the government acting to protect its citizens, and respect their human rights.

Simply put, if Israel had not acted to curtail Hezbollah's attacks on Israeli civilians, the international community would have been responsible to do it. Unfortuantely, the international community would have been unlikely to act discharge that responsibility.

With Dryden facing the most difficult election of his political career, he may be reaping the whirlwind of Ignatieff's failure to act as a strong ally of Israel. Conservative candidate Mark Adler may be reaping the benefits of Harper's support.

"When I go door to door in the Jewish area, people are totally aware of the Harper record on Israel and the previous Liberal administration's record on Israel," Adler said. "The Jewish community is aware of Michael Ignatieff's comments with respect to Israel, claiming that Israel has committed war crimes in Lebanon."

There is, by no means, any guarantee that the Israel issue will carry the riding in York-Centre, or anywhere else. But the Tory shift in support in the Jewish community has been hard-fought, and (mostly) well-earned.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Signs that the Red Green Coalition is Finally Dead

So what's the Joe Volpe campaign up to?

In the past, Volpe has been a paragon of questionable campaign tactics. When he ran for the Liberal Party leadership in 2006, Volpe endured embarrassing episodes in which the children of pharmaceutical company executives were donating to his campaign, and in which people who were sold Liberal Party memberships through his campaign turned out to be deceased.

Weeks into the 2011 campaign, Volpe complained to Elections Canada that people in his riding had been receiving phone calls from a number based in the US.

Nobody seems to know who is actually behind those calls. But what is the Volpe campaign up to? That turns out to be a much more interesting story.

According to a campaign staffer for Paul Baker, Green Party candidate in Volpe's riding of Eglinton-Lawrence, the Volpe campaign has been removing their literature from voters' mailboxes in the riding and disposing of them.

And it isn't as if this is something happening far away from Volpe's attention.

Photos taken show a Volpe volunteer approach the mailbox in question. What appears to be a Green Party leaflet can be seen sticking out of the mailbox.
In the next photo, the leaflet disappears.

It seems fair to wonder what happened to it...
In the final photo, the Green leaflet is now "magically" red.

Abracadabra! It seems Joe Volpe has some truly talented people campaigning with him.

The fact that Volpe himself can be seen in these photos seems to lay waste to any semblence of plausible deniability.

As for where these disappearing flyers are winding up? That's the best part:
It's not quite the kind of decorum that Canadians expect out of their politicians, that's for certain.

Joe Volpe owes his constituents -- and possibly Elections Canada -- an explanation for this kind of behaviour.

Irwin Cotler Deserves Better Than Dirty Politics

Cotler may be greatest Jewish parliamentarian ever

It's no great secret that your not-so-humble scribe supports the federal Conservative Party. But not in the "my party, right or wrong" manner by partisan hacks operate.

The Conservative Party has been wrong about some issues before, and will likely be wrong about some issues again.

A classic example of this is their treatment of Liberal MP Irwin Cotler. In 2009, the Tories mailed 10% flyers to households in Cotler's riding suggesting that Cotler had sympathized with anti-Semites by attending the notorious Durban conference, organized by the UN, which provided an international soapbox for anti-Semitic remarks.

In particular, Israel -- the country with the best human rights record in all of the Middle East -- was unfairly singled out for attack.

To accuse Cotler of being soft on anti-Semitism or disloyal to Israel based on his presence at Durban is purely unfair. Cotler attended Durban in order to speak out against the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments made at the conference.

This is all before one considers that Jews anywhere in the Commonwealth may never have had a more loyal advocate in Cotler. Except, of course, Winston Churchill himself.

As Churchill was not Jewish, this would make Cotler the greatest Jewish Parliamentarian in the history of the Commonwealth.

It was Cotler, in his work Justice Delayed -- a copy of which your not-so-humble scribe is proud and honoured to have in his possession -- who brought the intolerable presence of Nazi war criminals in Canada to public attention. Cotler's children are members of the Israeli Defence Force (something Antonia Zerbisias seemingly took exception to.)

Now, it seems that Cotler is fighting for his political life, on the back of suggestions that he hasn't been loyal enough to his Jewish constituents. Any such suggestion is pure rubbish.

“It causes me deep, personal anguish,” Cotler remarked. “The Conservatives utterly misrepresent my record and put me in the docket of the accused on the issues where I have been at the forefront.”

Cotler accuses the Tories of Karl Rove-like tactics, focused on attacking the individual and spreading fear.

Cotler's primary opponent, Conservative Party candidate Saulie Zajdel, objects to Cotler's assessment.

“Where is the fear?” he asked. “Are we trying to scare anybody? We’re trying to engage in the issues.”

For most of the 2011 election campaign, this has been the case. But in the two years leading up to this election, the party has managed to confuse the issues as they pertain to Irwin Cotler.

If Cotler goes down to defeat on May 2, it won't be because the Conservatives deserve to beat him. It will be because the thinly-veiled accusations of racism levelled at Cotler were successful.

And it will be a crying shame. It will be a profound loss to Jewish citizens throughout the Commonwealth. Irwin Cotler would deserve better.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

PETA's Easter Spanking

Jesus not a vegetarian; loved fish

Paying any passing amount of attention to a PETA ad campaign is basically like watching an Old Navy commercial: everyone in vegetarianism.

Including, it seems, Jesus Christ. PETA seemingly delights in pushing the idea that Jesus is a vegetarian.

Comments by PETA Vice President Bruce Friedrich suggesting the same were recently taken to task by Todd R Post, a travelling missionary.

In a letter appearing in the Fargo-Mounthead InForum, Post confronts PETA's claims with some very basic citations from scripture.

"Twice Jesus helped Peter catch abundant amounts of fish (Luke 5:4-7 and John 21:5-11). Luke 24:41-43 clearly shows that Jesus ate fish with his Disciples in their presence," Post explains. "In the Parable of the Lost Son, Jesus talked about the father killing the fatted calf to celebrate his son’s return (Luke 15:23). When Jesus instructed his followers to take communion, he used the phrase “eat my flesh” (John 6:53) when referring to the bread representing his body."

Not that Post entirely rejects PETA's biblical take of animal rights. In fact, he agrees that the Bible instructs not to abuse animals.

"I do agree that the Bible commands man not to deliberately abuse animals," Post continues. "Proverbs 12:10 (NIV) says, 'A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal.' I also agree with Friedrich’s disapproval of some modern agriculture methods. Seeing the movie Food, Inc inspired me to minimize my fast-food consumption."

But this is not to say that animals have the same value as humans. Post insists that the Bible clearly indicates otherwise.

"But animals do not have equal status with humans. Jesus said in Matthew 10:31, 'Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.' The Lord also said in Matthew 12:12, 'Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep?'"

In fact, Post insists, Jesus would take issue with people such as those in PETA, who treat animals as if they have greater value than humans.

"In Jesus’ day, some people valued the lives of animals more than the welfare of humans," Post writes. "In Mark, Chapter 5, Jesus delivered a demon-possessed man and allowed the unclean spirits to enter into a herd of swine, which ended up drowning. The pig farmers didn’t rejoice when seeing the demoniac set free. They were more concerned about losing their 'deviled ham' and told Jesus to go away."

One should likely presume that the "demonic possession" in this case is metaphorical for something. Likely the entire tale is metaphorical. But it's fairly clear: PETA's claims that the Bible grants equal value to animals as to humans is clearly false.

These arguments offered by PETA are -- as they so often are -- sloppy, lazy, and opportunistic.

"Today’s animal-rights advocates misuse Scripture to condemn meat-eating but neglect more important matters like people’s eternal destinies," Post declares. "This is a prophetic fulfillment of 1 Timothy 4 Verses 4 and 5 from this chapter go on to say, 'For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.'"

According to Post, it's permissable to consume meat, although the Bible does instruct believers to be thankful and appreciative of animals.

But PETA doesn't want Christians to realize this. They're too busy trying to use people's religious beliefs to push their own extreme agenda.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hate Hits the Wall

In sports -- particularly those that involve running -- there's a phrase for when a competitor begins to lose energy and momentum. They call it hitting the wall.

In BBC documentary film maker Louis Theroux's Most Hated Family in America in Crisis, Theroux returns to Topeka, Kansas to catch up with the Westboro Baptist Church.

What emerges is a portrait of a social movement -- and a family -- in crisis.

Maybe it's charitable to describe the WBC as a social movement. Perhaps its more fitting to describe them as part of a hate-based religion movement that includes individuals such as Florida's Pastor Terry Jones and the Taliban. The hate-based religion movement is basically a multi-faith hate cult.

In the four years since Theroux was last with the WBC, it has slowly hemhorraged followers. As it does this, the Phelps family itself hemhorrages family members.

It's against this backdrop that it's startling to see Shirley Phelps-Roeper so enthusiastic about the state of her church when it's in fact more troubled than its ever been before.

It's almost as if Shirley Phelps-Roeper has always been emotionally thriving off the hatred she provokes. With the WBC attracting more and more hatred, Phelps-Roeper seems more and more pleased with herself.

In fact, Phelps-Roeper seems more disturbed than ever before. Presenting some pint-sized hate placards, she describes them as "cute".

She even describes President Barack Obama as "the anti-Christ".

Even more shocking than the kid-sized signs she shows off is hearing the Phelps' own very young children -- some seeming to be as young as seven years old -- spouting the same hate rhetoric. This is just a form of victimization by the elder members of the hate-cult. The children have no idea what they're saying; they don't actually understand the hate they're being taught.

Most striking is that the WBC's hate-based religion makes victims of the Phelps children. They are essentially not allowed to be children. While the elder Phelps have allowed themselves to make friends, find love (even if it's with despicable people) and have families. They do not allow their children the same opportunities to live.

It repeatedly becomes thematic throughout the film: the hypocrisy of the WBC is slowly driving its children away.

At the end of the day, however, Louis Theroux should accept that his quest to understand the Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church is futile. Try as they may, good people -- and Theroux seems like a genuinely good person -- will never truly understand evil.

Friday, April 22, 2011

So How Seriously Does the Green Party Really Take Climate Change?

Throughout the 2011 election campaign -- and for years beforehand -- the Green Party has presented itself as the best party to fight climate change. Even when Green Party leader was partnering with the great do-nothing environment minister, then-Liberal Party leader Stephane Dion, in the "Red Green coalition", the Green Party has touted climate change as the most important reason to vote Green.

But how serious is the Green Party on fighting climate change? Perhaps not as seriously as one may think.

At 21:33 of the following video, May lays out the Green Party's policy on marijuana:

"When you look at the World Health Organization information on marijuana, from a health point of view compared to cigarettes or alcohol, you do not have as strong a case to ban marijuana as you do to ban cigarettes or alcohol.

Prohibition is not working, it's resulting in a distortion of our law-enforcement resources toward something that does not represent the health threat. But,\ it's fuelling organized crime. It's creating very dangerous grow-ops.

So by legalizing, taxing, regulating and encouraging Canadians not to get involved with marijuana the same way we say 'don't drink too much, don't smoke cigarettes'. It's a failed policy we're on now, and our approach is, frankly, very practical.
But how practical is the Green Party's approach to marijuana? Really? Especially as it pertains to their #1 priority of fighting climate change?

As it turns out, not very.

According to a study produced by Evan Mills, PhD entitled "Energy Up in Smoke", indoor marijuana production is actually one of the biggest unidentified contributors to climate change.

How big a contributor is it? When compared to the Alberta oil sands, indoor marijuana production in the state of California has half the carbon footprint of the oilsands. To make matters even more remarkable, California represents only 1/5 of the total indoor marijuana production in the United States.

It speaks for itself, especially when one considers that Canada's indoor marijuana grow-ops -- which are more energy-intensive due to the colder climate -- are not included in the figures.

So how serious is the Green Party about fighting climate change? If its policy on marijuana is any indication, the answer is: not serious enough to give up their reefer.

The oilsands they'd love to shut down, even if they don't publicly come out and say it. But the two-pounds-of-CO2-per-joint vice of the Canadians they desperately want to vote for them? Apparently, they'll take a pass on that.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ezra Levant Picking another CHRC Fight?

No sooner had Ezra Levant's show, The Source, gone on-air on Sun TV than he was once again digging up some old fights. Or perhaps even picking them.

During the April 18 episode of his show, Levant again showed the infamous prophet Muhammad cartoons. However whereas he was previously publishing them in the Western Standard, he's now broadcasting them on Sun TV.

He's already drawn the attention of Imam Steve Rockwell. Rockwell was previously in the news when he and Aly Hindy tag teamed a radio show caller who questioned the practice of polygamy in Islam. It immediately followed an episode in which a Canadian Muslim man had been caught maintaining three marriages; at least one of his wives were in the dark.

Now Rockwell's gone solo. The results have been truly remarkable.

“If he wants freedom of speech why doesn’t he go up to a black man and use the N-word?” Rockwell asked angrily. “There is no absolute free speech. With freedom of speech there are rules.”

Rockwell suggested that the media has a special tolerance for Levant's antics because his targets are Muslims, not Jews. Jews, you see, control the media.

“If he were to show 100 Jews in flames with soap coming out of the other end he would not have a job the next day!” he declared. “Why doesn’t he show his Jewish cousins being fried by the Nazis?”

Wow. Just wow.

Levant countered by noting that anti-Semitic cartoons are published so frequently, and the reactions to them are so relentlessly tame, that they are practically a non-story.

“Anti-Semitic cartoons run in newspapers around the world all the time,” he remarked. “If they were the cause of riots and 200 people dying you are darn right I would run them.”

It seems entirely fair to wonder whether or not Levant is deliberately attempting to provoke a complaint with one of the Human Rights Commissions his Islamist opponents previously used against him.

But one could be a long time waiting for such a complaint. When Levant was the editor of the Western Standard, it was one thing. Now that he has Quebecor behind him, it's unlikely that Steve Rockwell or anyone else will attempt to take him on in that forum.

Which basically demonstrates that that the proponents of Human Rights Commissions have been banking on the financial vulnerability of their targets for their success. When tye go after an organization like Macleans, who have some real money to defend themselves with... well, we've already seen the results.

Other bloggers writing about this topic:

Blazing Cat Fur - "F$cked Up Imam Steve Rockwell On Ezra Levant: 'Why doesn’t he show his Jewish cousins being fried by the Nazis?'”

God's Copy Book - "Bless You Ezra"

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

This Could Harm Michael Ignatieff's Prospects, But It Shouldn't

Ignatieff linked to Iraq war planning

With the Canadian left constantly willing to trot out Prime Minister Stephen Harper's early support for the Iraq War, one can only wonder how Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff's early involvement in the planning of that war will impact the electoral prospects of the Liberal Party.

It will probably hurt them. But it honestly shouldn't.

On its face, the suggestion that Ignatieff was involved in war planning would suggest that he was helping select targets. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Ignatieff's involvement was as part of an academic advisory group whose goal was integral to any attempt at responsibly prosecuting such a war: namely, the reduction of civilian casualties.

Of course, this hasn't stopped Ignatieff from being critical of pre-war planning.

"First of all, there was some real failures in post-invasion planning," Ignatieff declared in a 2003 Charlie Rose interview. “I saw matrices, you know, checklists compiled by, you know, the department of the army and army planners. They had some of the stuff that you'd want on a good post-invasion checklist, but what I think happened on that side was the military victory occurred so quickly that the post-invasion followup just didn't get generated fast enough."

Considering that Ignatieff was involved in planning the campaign, he could bear some responsibility for that failure. Then again, details are not clear as to whether or not Ignatieff was actually involved in any post-invasion planning.

The work Ignatieff and the Carr Centre did for the Pentagon is extremely laudible work. It should be a credit to Ignatieff.

But considering the stance his party has repeatedly taken toward the Iraq War, it will be hard for Michael Ignatieff to avoid. Which is genuinely a shame.

In Their Own Words: Soft on Crime, Tough on the Law-Abiding

On a recent edition of The Michael Coren Show, Coren, Andrew Lawton, John Downs and Nokha Dakroub face off over the issue of the long-gun registry.

Discussing the Liberal Party's most recent fear-mongering attack ad, Coren, Lawton, Downs and Dakroub discuss the issue of crime.

Seldom has the left ever demonstrated its intellectual impoverishment on the issue of crime, particularly as it pertains to the long-gun registry. Citing statistics claiming that long-guns are used to kill women, Downs is unable to address some of the very basic facts on this issue. This includes the fact that the long-gun registry hasn't actually reduced gun violence against women, or anyone else for that matter.

Downs and Dakroub go on to note that knives are also lethal, as are staplers (or at least can be). This would be utterly comical if it wasn't in their own words.

Downs goes on to note that it should be difficult to register a firearm so that there will be fewer guns. The segment concludes with Downs explaining why he thinks the Canadian justice system is so replete with impediments on the law-abiding, and various benefits and amnesties for criminals; at least he attempts to. The segment concludes with him flubbing the word "penal" (he instead says "penile"; laughter and cross-talk ensue).

Even with his comments left incomplete, Nokha Dakroub and John Downs make one thing abundantly clear: the Canadian left-wing favours a system that is soft on crime, and tough on the law-abiding.

These are the competing visions Canadians are choosing between in the 2011 federal election: on the one hand, a vision that is tough on crime, and soft on the law-abiding. In the other hand, a vision that is soft on crime, and tough on law-abiding.

Immigrants' List PAC: Cheapening the Immigration Debate

Immigration "Hall of Shame" a cheap stunt

Considering the amount of public support for an Arizona-style immigration law, one would think that groups like the Immigrants' List PAC wouldn't be so interested in picking a fight with lawmakers on the topic.

Apparently not.

In a media conference, the group inducted 10 US lawmakers into its "hall of shame". Those law makers were:

1. Representative Steve King - Republican, Iowa
2. Representative Lamar Smith - Republican, Texas
3. Representative Ed Royce - Republican, California
4. Representative Peter King - Republican, New York
5. Representative Michelle Bachmann - Republican, Minnesota
6. Representative Brian Bilbray - Republican, California
7. Senator John Boozman - Republican, Arizona
8. Representative Heath Shuler - Democrat, North Carolina
9. Representative Candice Miller - Republican, Michigan
10. Represenative Ben Quayle - Republican, Arizona

The individual on this list who has been most vocal has been Lamar Smith. He basically described the list as the last resort of a group battling against the tide of reality.

“Those who oppose enforcing the law often turn to name-calling when they do not have the facts on their side," Smith insisted.

Smith also pointed out that the issues are distinctly not on the side of these groups. In particular, Smith pointed to the problem of so-called "anchor babies" -- children concieved in Mexico and then born in the US -- as exploiting a Constitutional loop hole in order to circumvent immigration law.

“It is unfair to grant automatic citizenship to children of illegal immigrants because it undermines the intention of the 14th Amendment, encourages illegal immigration and costs taxpayers," Smith declared. "Passing a law to eliminate birth citizenship is constitutional and would help deter illegal immigration.”

Now this isn't to say that Immigrants' List PAC didn't have any legitimate points. In fact, their objections to the words of Steve King are entirely justified.

In 2008, King proposed that electrified barbed wire be run across the top of a border wall separating the United States from Mexico. In his comments, delivered from the floor of the House of Representatives, he compared illegal immigrants to livestock.

“We can also electrify this wire with the kind of current that wouldn’t kill somebody but it would simply be a discouragement for them to be fooling around with it,” King announced. “We do that with livestock all the time.”

Although its vital that the US do something to curtail illegal immigration, electrified barbed wire is simply going too far. Comparing illegal immigrants to livestock is simply crass. Suggesting they should be handled like livestock is purely unacceptable.

“Politicians like Steve King — who compare people seeking a better life to ‘livestock’ — appeal to people’s worst instincts,” declared PAC director Amy Novick. “And in doing so, they prevent the reform Americans want.”

Novick claims she speaks for the majority of Americans, but in fact speaks only for herself and her group. The majority of Americans have consistently polled in favour of Arizona-styled immigration law.

“We need reform that unites families, promotes fair employment practices and restores America’s place as a nation that welcomes those seeking freedom from persecution and a better way of life,” Novick continued.

Many Americans would likely agree with most of this. US immigration law needs to welcome those seeking a better life and needs to promote fair employment practices by compelling immigrants to enter the country legally. Many Americans -- maybe even those in regions with economies heavily-dependent on immigrant labour -- may even support making it easier for immigrants to enter the country legally.

Many Americans may even support reforms to reunite families, provided that they don't follow the Canadian example of admitting too many individuals who then become dependent on the state.

But as Lamar Smith would point out, Amy Novick and Immigrants' List PAC need to become more responsive to the fundamental realities driving demand for immigration reform in the United States.

All of the "Halls of Shame" inductions in the world won't excuse them from that responsibility.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lies the Harper Haters Tell, Part 6

Continuing the Nexus series fact checking the claims made on the Shit Harper Did website, we once again delve into Aboriginal issues.

In one particular claim, the site seems to infer that Harper is insensitive to the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women:
The clear intent is to suggest that if Harper isn't funding Sisters in Spirit, he isn't concerned at all about missing or murdered Aboriginal Women.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, in 2010 the Harper government devoted $10 million to address the issue of murdered and missing Aboriginal women. The funds were to be spent on the establishment of a missing persons' branch of the RCMP, as well as investments into fighting domestic violence in aboriginal communities.

As it pertains to Sisters in Spirit, it's actually a rather simple idea: criminal investigations are best pursued by the people with the authority to conduct such investigations. In Canada, police lead criminal investigations, not well-meaning but ill-equipped and ill-trained groups. End of story.

Jack Layton Takes a Page From the Nick Clegg Playbook

Layton rules out an immediate coalition attempt

Even as the Liberal Party ramps up desperate efforts to make canadians believe Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party have a hidden agenda, Canadians have kept in mind who has the real hidden agenda:

It's been Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and NDP leader Jack Layton. That hidden agenda is a coalition.

Ignatieff has insisted that there is no coalition. Canadians have been having a hard time believing him.

But if Layton is being honest with Canadians following his most recent pronouncement -- that he will not attempt to form a coalition immediately after the election -- he may face the prospect of needing to find himself a new dance partner.

"There have been no discussions about that," Layton insisted. "[Harper] gets the first shot. The question will be: Is he willing to work with other parties?"

That's every bit as valid a question as the question whether or not the other parties are willing to work with Harper. But beyond that fundamental reality, it at least may seem that Layton is following the lead of Britain's Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party.

When the 2010 British election ended in an effective stalemate between the David Cameron-led British Tories and the Gordon Brown-led Labour Party, Clegg was effectively put into the position to decide the next government. There was a very strong caveat: British political culture favours governments that control a majority of the seats in the House of Commons, and so that party would have to partner with his Lib Dems in a coalition.

Clegg determined that the Conservatives, having won the largest portion of seats, would get the first opportunity to make a deal. They were successful.

Canada's political culture does not make the same demand. In a "hung Parliament" situation, it's typically been accepted that whichever party holds a plurality would have the opportunity to govern. Only once in Canadian history has the pluarlity-winning party been rebuked by a larger coalition.

Then again, Layton may not be on the level. In 2008, he was in touch with the Bloc Quebecois very quickly laying the groundwork for the spectacular failure of the Liberal/NDP/Bloc coalition.

If Stephen Harper and the Conservatives fall short of a majority on May 2, it will be up to Canadians to hold Layton to his word, and at least give the Tories an opportunity to govern before trying to hatch a coalition.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Lies the Harper Haters Tell, Part 5

In previous episodes of the Nexus fact check into the Shit Harper Did website, we uncovered dishonest claims about science funding, the G20 summit, and torture in Afghanistan. We've also explored some poorly-supported appeals to religious bigotry.

But in order to conduct the most recent ShitHarperDid fact check, we have to first set the table. To do that, we pay a visit to our old friend Audrey of Enormous Thriving Plants.

Joining a few other far-left bloggers in creeping the facebook page of Conservative Candidate Wally Daudrich, Audrey notes that he identifies Red Dawn as one of his favourite movies, the Tea Party as one of his interests, and Fox News as his favourite media outlet.

Yet there's greater hilarity afoot than simply the creeping of Daudrich's Facebook page. It has to do with a ShitHarperDid claim about water on aboriginal reserves:
Frankly, even one aboriginal community in Canada without safe drinking water is one too many. But the purpose of this claim is clearly to suggest that Harper has done nothing to fix this problem. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, the government of Canada spent $735.6 million between 2008-10 dealing with this very problem. The results speak for themselves. While there were 49 First Nations communities under water advisories in March 2010 -- still 49 too many -- this number is down from 193 in 2006.

That's a 75% reduction in Aboriginal communities with high-risk drinking water systems since 2006. Which kind of makes one wonder about what the Liberal Party was doing during their 13 years in power.

Or what Niki Ashton, the NDP MP for Churchill has been doing. From Daudrich's Facebook page:

While the Harper government was budgeting funds to tackle the water problems in Garden Hill, Manitoba and elsewhere, NDP MPs like Niki Ahston were voting against the funding bills.

Facts like this don't even seem to phase the people behind the ShitHarperDid website. They promote the Liberal Party -- who allowed water safety in First Nations communities to deteriorate -- and the NDP -- whose MPs have voted against funding projects to fix the problem -- as better options than the Conservatives, who have made tremendous progress in fixing the problem.

It's just another lie the Harper haters tell.

Canada's Silly Elections Act

Electiosn Act prohibits foreign opinion on Canadian politics?

As the 2011 federal election has entered its final two weeks, the Green Party is rushing to put out a brush fire started by some well-meaning Australian Greens.

A YouTube video, entitled "Sydney, Australia to Sidney, BC" has surfaced, in which members of the Australian Green Party endorse Green Party leader Elizabeth May in Saanich-Gulf Islands.

To most Canadians, something like this would barely raise an eyebrow. But according to Elections Canada, this is actually unlawful under the Elections Act. Under section 331 of the Elections Act: "No person who does not reside in Canada shall, during an election period, in any way induce electors to vote or refrain from voting . . . for a particular candidate unless the person is (a) a Canadian citizen; or (b) a permanent resident."

The Green Party should be commended for its efforts to ensure their international supporters respect the Elections Act. But, quite frankly, not only is Section 331 the most unenforcable law ever written, it's also grossly unconstitutional -- in numerous countries.

What Section 331 basically states is that if anyone who is not a citizen of Canada has an opinion on who should win a Canadian election, they are to keep it to themselves. Not only is that a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it's also a violation of such freedoms anywhere else that they are legally-entrenched.

So how would Elections Canada go about enforcing this law? The simple fact of the matter is that they can't. They have no authority to tread into foreign countries and charge their citizens under Canadian law.

Perhaps foreign citizens shouldn't endorse candidates in Canadian elections. But that's a matter of opinion.

Section 331 needs to be struck from the Elections Act at the earliest opportunity.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Lies the Harper Haters Tell, Part 4

Today on the Nexus series fact-checking the Shit Harper Did website, we examine the site's descent from specious half-truths and outright lies into sheer religious bigotry:
Of course, all of this is based on the work of Douglas Todd.

As if to provoke some very severe doubts about the nature of Todd's work, it seems that his claims about the Alliance Church's beliefs regarding an apocalypse are corroborated only by works by himself. That's suspicious, particularly when Todd tips his hand when he attempts to also link Harper's religious beliefs to Sarah Palin.

It would be bad enough if it weren't just blatant dog-whistle politics. It's also poorly supported.

Todd offers examples of work by Vision TV's Randall Mark and Fraser Valley University professor Ron Dart. Mark's and Dart's works on this subject are not peer-reviewed, and themselves cite no sources.

In other words: they don't pass scholarly muster.

Not that anyone should expect such scholarly matters to be of any concern to the people behind ShitHarperDid. After all, the website is all about dog-whistle politics -- about making statements that would rightly be rejected by most people as utter rubbish, yet serves to get the far-left base all fired up for the election.

As it turns out, however, the joke may actually be on the creators of Shit Harper Did: the far-left base is already fired up to vote. It's moderate voters they desperately need, and moderate voters are likely to be repulsed by the kinds of lies being told at the Shit Harper Did website.

What's been seen so far is only the tip of the iceberg. Ther are more.

Religious Freedom: It's Not About Secularism...

...At least not in the way 'secularists' believe

When the Conservative Party recently proposed the creation of an office within the department of Foreign Affairs dedicated to promoting religious freedom abroad, it was only a matter of time before they began to draw heat over the proposition.

The opposition is coming from various quarters: from the self-proclaimed secularists at the Centre for Inquiry to the thinly-veiled Islamists at the Canadian Islamic Congress.

The CIC's Wahida Valiante pointed to the Conservative Party's failure to deliver a proposed office that would promote democracy abroad by collaborating with foreign political parties. The Conservatives backed away from this proposal (which was probably for the best, as it was fraught with the possibility of interference in foreign domestic politics).

"Every country, every nation has their own laws to protect their citizens," Valiante declared. "We have our Charter rights in Canada. In that, our freedom to practice religion is guaranteed. That shows that Canada is a model in which diversity of religion is protected. We can only be a model to others."

To put it charitably, Valiante's statement is just untrue. There are no laws to protect religious freedom in countries like Iran, Saudia Arabia, China, Libya and a host of others. Moreover, Canada can do more than simply be a model of religious freedom. It can be an advocate of religious freedom. That's the point.

The Centre for Inquiry's Justin Trottier has reportedly suggested that religious freedom is a "sensitive area" for the government to venture into, and even suggested that the office could wind up taking sides in religious disputes.

Which is actually the polar opposite of what the office's mandate would be. Frankly, Trottier's objections are simply confusing.

Simply put, the establishment of an office to promote religious freedom isn't about secularism. At least not in the way Trottier seems to think.

Secularism cannot actually exist without religious freedom. Religious freedom, after all, entails the freedom to not be religious, and the freedom to be secular.

That kind of freedom is what this is about, and that's why the establishment of this office is so vital.

Time to Clean House at Elections Canada

Elections Canada making its rulings up as it goes along

Following an incident at a special polling station at the University of Guelph, Elections Canada has seemingly chosen to blatantly ignore some serious violations of the Canada Elections Act.

The Conservative Party contacted Elections Canada last week after a Tory scrutineer was denied the opportunity to work at the polling station. There was also partisan campaign literature in the polling area. Both are violations of election law.

This turned out to be the least of the problems at the University of Guelph poll. When contacting Elections Canada to complain about the two violations only to be notified that the poll in question had not been authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer.

Under law, the proper course of action would have been to annul the votes cast at that poll, and call the students back to vote in a properly-authorized poll. Instead, Elections Canada validated the ballots cast, and cancelled all such special polls.

It's only the most recent in a series of episodes that casts doubt on the impartiality of the personell running Elections Canada.

There is, of course, the on-sided ruling issued by Elections Canada regarding the "in and out" scandal; one in which the Conservative Party, and the Conservative Party alone, was charged over a practice that all of Canada's political parties have used.

Elections Canada would rule that the practice was different when the Tories used it, alleging that they had conspired to violate election spending rules.

Yet when Avaaz, a far-left advocacy group registered as a third party in the 2008 election, violated spending limits in three ridings during that campaign, Elections Canada looked the other way. Newspaper ads specifically identified three opposition candidates in the 2008 election, but spread the cost of the ads across numerous different ridings. Instead of spending the $3,666 per targetted riding they were allowed to under election law, they instead were able to spend $14,000 on their campaign in these three ridings.

In each case, despite the fact that the ads were specifically identified as supporting specific candidates -- the local Tory candidate in the case of the Conservative ads, and Elizabeth May, David Pratt and Mike Bocking in the case of Avaaz -- Elections Canada concluded they were national in scope and thus subject to different spending limits.

In each case, Elections Canada facilitated the decision by declining to examine the content of the ads. The rulings were entirely arbitrary.

Just as it seems that a Tory scrutineer was excluded from the University of Guelph polling station was largely arbitrary. But Elections Canada has offered no comment on this matter whatsoever, let alone have they announced how they're going to respond to the violation.

They're just letting it slide, despite the fact that the poll results ought to be invalidated.

This isn't to say that the 700 students -- actually more like 241 according to an Elections Canada spokesman -- should simply have their votes anulled. Rather, they should have the opportunity to re-cast their votes at a polling station that actually complies with the law.

Even the decision to suspend these on-campus voting stations is disappointing: there's clearly a role for these kinds of polls, provided that they comply with the law.

What is most disappointing -- and deeply disturbing -- is the fact that the people running Elections Canada seems to be making its rulings up as they go along. They have simply rendered too many rulings that are at variance with the law, and often at variance with one another.

It's time for the government to clean house at Elections Canada. The far-left will despise it, but it's the only way to ensure that Canada will remain a democracy where the rule of law reigns supreme, not the biases of those expected to enforce the law.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lies the Harper Haters Tell, Part 3

As the Shit Harper Did website continues to spew innuendo, half-truth and outright lies at the Canadian people, the Nexus is continuing its fact-checking mission into the claims made on the site.

The site previously lied in suggesting Harper was involved in police abuses during the 2010 G20 Summit, and ignoring net funding increases to science in Canada.

Today, we explore a far more insidious lie from the website:
The site reiterates claims that Harper and the Conservative Party were complicit in the torture of detainees in Afghanistan, and repreats the sensational claims of former Diplomat Richard Colvin.

Unsurprisingly, the site omits a few facts. Such as the fact that it was a Liberal government, under the leadership of Paul Martin, that actually signed a Prisoner Transfer Agreement that provided insufficient oversight of the treatment of prisoners after they were transferred from Canadian to Afghan custody.

Moreover, they had even been warned about the prevalence of torture in Afghan prisons by former diplomat Eileen Olexiuk. They ignored her.

This is very different from how Prime Minister Stephen Harper handled reports of torture. When revelations that Afghan prisoners transferred by Canadian soldiers were being tortured reached Harper, his government immediately re-negotiated the PTA.

But don't expect to hear that from the people behind Shit Harper Did. They're too busy lying to the Canadian public.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Gordon Brown Seeking Posh New Job

Former UK PM interested in role as top international financier

When Gordon Brown was defeated as Prime Minister, then promptly replaced as leader of the Labour Party, many naturally wondered what would come next.

Now we seem to know. A year after moving out of No 10 Downing Street, Brown is poised to take on an advisory role at the World Economic Forum. Speculation holds that he intends to spin this into leadership of the International Monetary Fund.

At the WEM, Brown would be responsible for overseeing 72 Econcomic Councils. As former Prime Minister of Britain, he is uniquely prepared for such a responsibility.

But he should by no means considered a shoo-in for the job.

After all, some had pegged Tony Blair to be a favourite to assume the office of President of the European Union. Instead, backlash against Blair's involvement in the Iraq War held Blair back.

Brown could face some obstacles of his own. One of them is related to the Iraq War. The other is due to Gordon's handling of Britain's finances as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Brown has frequently been publicly savaged for his failure to manage the British public debt.

In fact, as it turned out Brown's government excelled at concealing its mounting public debt. Essentially, Brown's government, under Brown's fiscal leadership, ran up billions of Pounds Sterling in deferred debt by financing projects as Private Finance Initiatives.

This allowed the Labour government to spend today, committing each British government for the next 30 years to make fixed payments on these projects.

In essence, the Blair/Brown government uploaded billions of Pounds Sterling in debt to future generations of Britons. It enabled the Blair/Brown government to inflate its short-run political popularity at the long-run expense of the British citizenry.

They did what they wanted to do, and left the hard decisions to future British governments.

It isn't as if Labour only organized one or two projects under the PFI structure. It isn't as if they only organized five or six. They ran 630 projects under this structure. That's the cost of 630 projects spread out over a 30-year period.

It gets even worse when one considers the scope of the cost spread out over that period: 110 billion Pounds Sterling. In Canadian dollars, the PFI debt load added by Brown was $172 billion.

It's difficult to believe that a leader as casual about assuming debt on the behalf of future generations could become the managing director of the IMF. But Brown may have yet one more advantage at his disposal.

In the United States, the Barack Obama administration has shared Brown's irresponsible approach to public debt. Moreover, the Obama administration has some diplomatic bridges to mend with Britain, and may choose to mend them by helping Brown ascend the IMF mountain.

By all rights, Gordon Brown probably shouldn't become the director of the International Monetary Fund. But for good or ill -- very likely for ill -- he just may.

Lies the Harper Haters Tell, Part 2

Yesterday, the Nexus' fact-checking series into the ShitHarperDid website explored the site's false claims about the Harper government's record on science.

Today, we examine a claim made about the G20 Summit in Toronto:
The clear intention is to blame Harper for the undeniable abuses perpetrated by police at the G20 Summit.

Yet as it turns out, it wasn't Prime Minister Harper who gave police the powers they abused at the G20 Summit. Rather, it was the Liberal provincial government of Dalton McGuinty.

The McGuinty government not only changed the Public Works Protection Act to arrest anyone in the vicinity of the G20 Security Zone, but they did it without even debating the matter in Queen's Park. In fact, they went to spectacular lengths to keep the changes secret.

The changes fortunately had a sunset clause built in -- they expired on June 28, 2010. The punchline is that they didn't publish the change in the Ontario Gazette until July 3, 2010.


It's actually rather remarkable: ShitHarperDid is campaigning against Stephen Harper on the basis of shit McGuinty did, all while promoting the Ontario Liberals' federal counterpart -- for whom McGuinty's brother David is a candidate -- as a "better option".

Just think about that.

Dispatches From Terrible Music Land

Approximately a year ago, Lindsay Stewart (aka Pretty Shaved Ape) released a self-produced album of rockabilly-esque music. Or something like it.

Recently, the Nexus received a bootleg recording of one of Stewart's performances. Apparently, the scene was not pretty.

(Before any zealous members of the Clowncar Brigade raise their hollow objections, yes this is a joke. Also, hat tip to Maffew of Botchamania fame.)

Patrick Brazeau 2, Liberal Party 0

Justin Trudeau has nothing better to criticize Patrick Brazeau for than his Twitter avatar

It's no secret why Liberal MP Justin Trudeau has declined an opportunity to debate Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau about Aboriginal policy: Trudeau's too busy complaining about Brazeau's Twitter handle.

“How any Senator who chooses to, you know, an honourable Senator in a Canadian Parliament chose to further himself as TheBrazman perhaps lacks a little bit of gravitas one would expect from the house of sober second thought,” Trudeau complained.

In the end, Trudeau portrayed himself as a victim of his social netowrking success.

“I have a little over 60,000 followers and I try to interact with everyone who sends me Twitter notes but if every time I got to an argument with someone on Twitter I ended up debating I will spend all my time debating and not any time working her in the riding where I need to,” Trudeau insisted.

But perhaps there's another reason why Trudeau is reluctant to debate Brazeau on the topic: most of the Liberal Party's policies on Aboriginal issues entail undoing their own mistakes.

According to Trudeau, the Liberals are pledging $300 million for kindergarten-grade 12 education in Aboriginal communities, the elimination of the 2% funding cap on Aboriginal Education, and establishing a task force to deal with the issue of murdered and missing Aboriginal women.

Brazeau pointed out that it was the Liberal Party who imposed the 2% cap in the first place, and noted that the Tories have devoted $10 million to dealing with the murdered/missing women issue, including the establishment of a permanent RCMP missing persons division. There was also money made available to fight domestic violence in Aboriginal communities.

It's no wonder Justin Trudeau has nothing better to complain about than Patrick Brazeau's "Brazman" Twitter handle.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lies the Harper Haters Tell, Part 1

Considering the raw hatred frequently being expressed for Stephen Harper over social networking sites like Twitter this election season, it shouldn't be shocking to see a website like attract such a quick following.

What is remarkable is the steady stream of half-truths, innuendo, and outright lies that the website offers up.

Frankly, the ShitHarperDid website has proven to be so dishonest that one could fact-check its claims for days. Here at the Nexus, we'll be doing precisely that.

We start off with a familiar fib:
The CBC story in question about the "evolution scandal" (it wasn't a scandal) does a splendid job of telling about half of the story.

The other half of the story is that Goodyear later affirmed his belief in evolution, explaining that evolution is on ongoing process. Thinking themselves clever, the far-left responded by trying to excise the function of adaptation from the theory of natural selection.

In other words, they actually attempted to butcher scientific theory in order to pose as the defenders of it. Amazing.

As for the cuts the website complains of, the Harper government did, indeed, cut $148 million in 2009... from three specific agencies. While increasing bulk spending on science (including establishing 40 new Canada Research Chairs, and investing extensively in scientific infrastructure) by $3.5 billion.

In other words, Canadian science gave up $148 million in funding to receive $3.5 billion in new funding. But who's counting? Not the people behind ShitHarperDid.

As for the Environment Canada scientists, no organization in the world allows its employees to speak as if acting as official spokespersons without first obtaining the proper authorization. Moreover, plenty of climate alarmists have tried to muzzle any scientists who don't agree with them, but again: who's counting? Really?

Michael Ignatieff and His Coalition Stooges

The Real Reason the NDP Opposes Senate Reform

They don't need Senators to chill in Mexico -- their candidates already do

For years, it was the ultimate in outrage. Senator Andrew Thompson, Liberal Senator from Ontario, was spending his time in La Paz, Mexico, instead of in Ottawa.

Moreover, Thompson was collecting his salary for the privilege. It was one of the episodes that for so many years disenchanted Canadians with the upper chamber.

For his own part, NDP candidate Jim Koppens isn't collecting a salary to relax in the Dominican Republic.

So, while the 2011 federal election continues, Koppens has yet to spend a single day campaigning, despite the fact that the campaign began more than a week before he left for his vacation.

In all fairness, reports indicate that Koppens has no cancellation insurance for his vacation. As a meatcutter, it's unlikely that he could casually accept the total loss of his vacation.

That being said, being an MP comes with having to make sacrifices. If Koppens isn't willing to sacrifice his vacation, or at least sacrifice his candidacy to an individual prepared to campaign, it's more than fair to wonder if Koppens is ready to be an MP at all.

For his own part, Liberal incumbent Mark Holland -- against whom Koppens is running -- seems just fine with his absence. Imagine that.

“I am a local boy and I know he is a good guy,” Holland remarked. “He will have to answer for all his actions.”

Naturally, Holland is far from outraged by Koppens' absence. If his vacation harms the NDP's prospects in Ajax-Pickering, it will likely be Holland who is the benefactor. It's unlikely many of Koppens' supporters will back Conservative candidate Chris Alexander.

In fact, the Liberals would probably like it if a great deal more NDP candidates would run off to the Carribean to catch some rays.

Patrick Brazeau 1, Liberal Party 0

Brazeau cajoles Ignatieff into rejecting voter subsidy for controversial candidate

Senator Patrick Brazeau's tenure in the Senate hasn't been without its share of controversy.

But since the 2011 election campaign got underway, Brazeau -- former National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples and a Stephen Harper appointee -- has been like a house on fire.

Of course it isn't as if the Liberals haven't given him enough help. In the Liberal candidate for Manicouagan, the Liberals provided him with a convenient target to attack.

Forbes, of course, is the controversial candidate who described aboriginals as "featherheads". His candidacy has cast doubt not only on the Liberal Party's vetting of its candidates, but also on its ability to respond appropriately when it's uncovered that a candidate is unsuitable.

Forbes is staying in the election, and although he is billing himself as an independent, he'll appear on the ballot as a Liberal.

Which has presented the problem of the Liberal Party receiving per-vote subsidy cash from Forbes' campaign totals; funds Brazeau declared the Liberal Party should reject.

“The racist and hurtful comments by Mr Ignatieff’s candidate in Manicouagan set our society back and threaten to undo the progress we have made together,” Brazeau declared in a statement. “To think that Mr Ignatieff’s Liberal Party will now financially benefit from each vote received by Mr Forbes is an insult to all Canadians and taxpayers."

"This isn’t the vision of Canada that we believe in, and this is hardly the example of the Canada that we want our children to know and love,” Brazeau concluded.

Liberal spokesman Marc Roy declared that the Liberals would oblige Brazeau.

“Any vote subsidies that come in will be returned to Elections Canada,” explained Roy. “For Elections Canada procedures, we can’t remove him from the ballot. He is not running on the Liberal slate and is not endorsed.”

An even better move would be to take those funds and donate them to a charity assisting troubled Aboriginal youths. But so long as the Forbes subsidy isn't lacing the Liberal Party's coffers, that's the important thing.

So rack that up as a small -- but important -- victory for Patrick Brazeau.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Somewhere, in East Vancouver, They're Cloning the Next Libby Davies

Charlie Smith heralds the arrival of Ben West

Somewhere in the offices of the Georgia Strait, Charlie Smith is looking for the next Libby Davies.

He seems to think that he's found her... or, in this case, him.

Smith is seemingly ready to annoint Ben West the heir apparent to the riding of Vancouver-East. West has built himself an accomplished (by Smith's standards) career as a political activist, having attached himself to seemingly every far-left political cause under the sun.

Right now, West is affiliated with the Wilderness Committee, a group dedicated to publicizing urban environmental issues.

Perusing Smith's loveletter to West, one question has clearly been ignored:

If Ben West is as impressive as Smith claims he is, why on Earth would he want to be the next Libby Davies?

Davies, after all, has consistently demonstrated that she is someone who simply just doesn't get it. She doesn't seem to get anything.

Whether it's voting against anti-human trafficking legislation out of her ideological opposition to mandatory minimum sentencing, or declaring Israel to be the longest occupation in history, Davies' dedication to various far-left dogmas has not given her the clairvoiance to help her party make desperately-needed inroads with centrist Canadians.

West, meanwhile, could potentially find such inroads. His accomplishment in making Metro Vancouver blink on its garbage incineration plans could potentially resonate well with NIMBY-thinking Canadians. It's certainly a legitimate concern.

There is one other reason West may not be the next Davies: he's currently affiliated with the Green Party, not the NDP.

Whatever Ben West may want to be, he should run screaming from Charlie Smith's efforts to annoint him as the next Libby Davies. Whatever West may end up being, he certainly deserves better than that.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Interesting Candidate the NDP Has in Parry Sound-Muskoka

Dr Wendy Wilson remarks Tony Clement's campaign van "needs crosshairs"

No one who follows politics could remember those horrible days in January when US Democrat Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot.

Feelings of horror were not quite universal. Many among the far-left scrambled to find evidence that Giffords' assailant, Jared Lee Loughner, was a conservative. Ignoring remarks from a childhood friend of Loughner that indicated he was "very liberal", the far-left seized upon fascinations with issues such as debt-backed currency to paint him as an extreme conservative.

(In doing this they overlooked the fact that debt-backed currency is also a fascination of the discipline of globalization studies, which is far from a right-wing field of study.)

It's against this particular backdrop, and demands to restore civility to politics, that one would expect the left to take some recent remarks by the NDP's candidate in Parry-Sound Muskoka very seriously.

At an all-candidates forum, Dr Wendy Wilson, carrying the banner for the NDP, suggested Tony Clement's campaign van should have crosshairs for those who wanted to shoot Clement.

As the media has been remarkably slow to pick up the story, Clement's account will have to do for now:
"Local NDP cand suggested tonite that my campaign van needed crosshairs for those wishing to shoot me. Audible gasps from audience."
For a party like the NDP, who claim to stand for civility and human decency in Canadian politics, these are very remarkable and disturbing comments indeed.

But if one takes Dr Wilson's Rate My MDs profile as evidence of anything -- and one should take these testimonials with an extreme grain of salt -- Dr Wilson may have the kind of personality that lends itself to these kinds of outbursts.

One thing that could be concluded is that Dr Wilson has a divisive personality. People either really like her or really dislike her. The number of extremely high ratings (seven) and number of extremely low ratings (also seven) seem to speak to polarized opinions on both her and her skills as a physician.

One commenter writes:
"Her personality runs hot and cold. one visit she'll be super friendly, the next she'll be rude and condescending. Sometimes it switches mid-visit! When she's in rude mode, she won't hardly listen to you, you'll barely be able to say a word. Her diagnosis ability goes up and down accordingly. On a friendly visit she diagnosed and fixed a complex problem I had. But later on a rude visit she failed to diagnose a really simple problem I had with one body part. I was sure there was something not right, so I went back a second time, and she was very rude and exasperated that I would not accept her conclusion that it was nothing! A week later that part developed into a full-grown infection that I treated myself with OTC products. I didn't bother going back to shove it in her face."
This individual's comments seem to be corroborated by one other individual.
"I agree with the person said about her running hot and cold. But mostly she is just cold. For 2 years I was asking about a problem that I was having after a surgery. She kept dismissing this other recurring problem. I finally inisited that she refer me to a specialist and she literally lost it. She got down right rude and actually left me sitting in the office, without returning, but she did do the referall, and to this day am still seeing the specialist for results to my problem. We both agree there is something wrong, but have not been able to diagnose. After my first visit with the specialist, I went back to her for my results, and she was so nice. That really upset me, as she was acting like she did nothing wrong, and to this day has never apologized, not that i expect it from her. She needs to come down off of her high horse. She is so prejudiced with people who are overweight, and tends to blame everything on that. I put in to switch doctors, but am still waiting to see what happens."
Dr Wilson's negative ratings often refer to her as rude. Meanwhile, her numerous positive ratings -- five of which are straight fives -- describe her as passionate and dedicated to her work.

All this aside, it's also very important to consider the fact that websites like Rate My MDs lack any sort of controls to ensure the people who are rating doctors have actually been patients of the doctor. This point relates as much to the negative reviews of Dr Wilson as to the positive reviews.

In considering this very real possibility, it's important to note that two comments have been made either since the current election was called, or since it became clear that an election would be called. Almost as if to justify the doubt of the veracity of these comments, one is a spectacularly high rating (fives across the board), while the other one was a fairly low rating.

Prior to these two comments, suspicious in the view of this author, the most recent comments were made in 2010. It could be suspected that most of those comments were actually made by patients.

Then again, it would be risky to draw any conclusions from a website like Rate My MDs. The ratings may be accurate. They may not be. Readers should be careful either way.

Dr Wilson's comments about Tony Clement, however, are much fairer game for speculation. On that note alone it's an interesting candidate the NDP has in Dr Wendy Wilson.

People expect better out of political candidates in Canada, and hopefully the NDP expects better from their candidates, and do something about Dr Wilson's comments.

Update: According to Tony Clement's Twitter account, Dr Wilson has apologized for her comments.

In the heat of a candidates' forum, people can say things they don't really mean. Dr Wilson should be commended for doing the right thing and apologizing.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Does Olivia Chow Actually Understand How Parliament Works?

Olivia Chow says Tory Senators should be working to pass legislation... when there is no legislation to pass

Following sightings of some Conservative Senators on the campaign trail, Trinity-Spadina MP Olivia Chow is crying dirty pool.

Chow has even taken to posting "Not Wanted" posters in her riding featuring photos of Senator Mike Duffy campaigning for Tory candidates. She's calling for NDP supporters to photograph campaigning Senators and send the photos to her campaign.

Chow insists that taxpayer dollars should not pay Senators to campaign for their Party's candidates.

“Why should taxpayers foot the bill for this?” Chow mused. “The Senators should be working to pass bills to help people instead of campaigning. ...These people are supposed to be passing important bills for all Canadians.”

Which, frankly, makes one wonder if Olivia Chow has any idea whatsoever what happens in Parliament when an election is called. The first thing that happens is that Parliament is adjourned. That means that any bills that have not yet been passed by the Senate and received Royal Assent die on the order paper.

Simply put, the Senators couldn't be working to pass bills that help people, because there are no longer any bills to pass.

If Chow were more noted for her thoughts on Senate reform, one would expect Chow to offer some kind of idea on how to make passing bills during election time a possibility: such as any bills that have passed the committee stage, and all their readings in the House of Commons to continue being debated in the Senate during an election.

Then again, as Mrs Jack Layton, Chow's idea of reforming the Senate is to abolish it. So we should expect no such suggestions.

This is unfortunate because Chow actually has a very good point. It's not right that Senators -- representing any party -- should be able to campaign on the public dime.

“This is not right and it is not fair,” she complained. Again, she's actually right about that.

There are two clear solutions: the first is that Senators should stop receiving paycheques once an election is called; paycheques that should not resume until after the election is over. Likewise, all the perks that come with being a Senator, including their travel and hospitality allowances, should be suspended.

But there's a better reform yet: Canadians could also be deciding which Senate candidate to vote for, as these Senators could potentially be worrying about an election campaign of their very own.

That's yet another reform that Olivia Chow seems to have no time for. But for largely-empty complaining, she seems to have all the time in the world.