Monday, August 29, 2011

Is Libby Davies the Most Irresponsible MP in Canada?

Davies resurrects Dhalla's pension bill

When running in a riding like Vancouver East, one can always bank on the appeal of additional welfare benefits for somebody.

In this vein, Vancouver East MP Libby Davies' most recent proposal is not actually a new idea by any stretch of the imagination. Unlike the idea's progenitor, Davies will likely not have to pay a price for the sheer irresponsibility of it.

Davies has resurrected a proposal by former Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla to pay old age pension benefits to elderly immigrants immediately upon arriving in Canada. The proposal, adopted as a blatant means of pandering to the immigrant community in her riding of Brampton-Springdale, instead angered her constituents. She was beaten by 10,000 votes in the 2011 federal election by Conservative Parm Gill.

Running in Vancouver East, Davies has found that no bit of far-left boilerplate, no matter how ridiculous or irresponsible, can fail her.

Precisely how irresponsible is Davies' most recent proposal? It's irresponsible to the tune of anywhere from $300 million to $700 million per annum, paid out to people who have never contributed a red cent to the Canada Pension Plan. Every year.

The sheer irresponsibility of it becomes crystal clear when one considers that as of 2006, the CPP was considered to be facing an unfunded liability of $620 billion.

This isn't the first time Davies has done something irresponsible for purely ideological or demagogical purposes. In 2009, Davies voted against a bill to impose a 5-year mandatory minimum sentence for human traffickers who exploit children. Her reason was an ideological opposition to mandatory minimum sentencing.

Davies' Parliamentary motion calling on the government to open pension funds to recent immigrants -- currently there is a 10-year residency requirement, which is as it should remain, if not increase -- is merely the most recent in a long, sad history of demagogical irresponsibility from Libby Davies.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Road to Jerusalem

Today, Jack Layton will be laid to rest.

Some may find it odd that sometimes a man's most vociferous critics may be the ones who admire them the most.

I won't pretend I respeceted or admired Jack Layton any more than anyone else.

Nor will I pretend that the long mourning period observed by Layton's followers hasn't been more than a little off-putting. Perhaps even as off-putting as John Diefenbaker's funeral.

But the long mourning period did give me the opportunity to do something that Christie Blatchford didn't do when she wrote her graceless -- but not altogether unjustifiable -- comments: think long and hard about it.

My thoughts continually take me back to the evening of May 2, 2011, when the Conservative Party won a majority government. In the middle of finding the bottom of a celebratory bottle of Jack Daniels, I took some time out to pray for Layton's health. It was actually the first time I prayed for a politician's health. Strangely, it was the first time I had actually considered praying for the health of a politician.

At the time, it just seemed like the right thing to do.

It was entirely natural that my thoughts when back to that when Layton announced that he was stepping back -- temporarily -- to fight a new cancer. Many media commentators could tell right away that there was good reason to be concerned.

Once again, I prayed for Layton's health. Sadly, those prayers weren't answered.

But it also occurs to me that I may have been praying for the wrong thing. I'm reminded of a tale Evander Holyfield related in his book, Becoming Holyfield, regarding the passing of his mother. She had been in a car accident, and arrived at hospital in a coma.

Trying to focus on his training, Holyfield asked a close spiritual advisor what he should do. He was told to pray for the right thing to happen.

Those who have experienced a family member passing away from cancer -- this author has witnessed two family members die of the disease, and has had four others successfully fight it off, the youngest at the age of two years old -- understand full well how painful fighting terminal cancer is. Sometimes, the cancer cannot be beaten. The best thing to hope for is a quick, painless, merciful passing.

The specific details regarding Layton's final days are not of public knowledge. This is as it should be. We don't know how much pain Layton was suffering before his passing. His friends and family do, and that's information best reserved for themselves.

I take some comfort in hoping that Layton's passing was a peaceful one, and in hoping that he didn't suffer.

If he did, I take comfort in knowing that his passing at least ended that suffering. And although I disagree with Layton's politics, I admire Layton's character, and firmly believe he's in a much better place now.

If Layton's passing ended a period of suffering, it was the right thing to happen. It's a sad thing nonetheless, but there's comfort to be taken from it.

Jack Layton has followed Tommy Douglas down the road to Jerusalem. There is no doubt in my heart that he arrived safely.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Far Left's Bizarre Love of Mediocrity Strikes Again... and Again

Canadian artist out to canonize herself as leftist cause celibre

It seems that, in Canada, if one really, really wants their 15 minutes of fame, one has to go out and get it themselves.

Since June alone, Brigette DePape, Kai Nagata and Margie Gillis have done everything they can to seize the imaginations of the Canadian left. In each case, each one was forgotten within weeks of their self-glorification.

DePape chose to spat on her job by holding up a "Stop Harper" sign during the 2011 speech from the throne. Her career as a leftist icon peaked with a job offer from Michael Moore that no self-respecting left-winger would actually take.

Interpretive dancer Margie Gillis appeared on the Sun News Newtork, then rallied her followers into petitioning the CRTC to order Sun News removed from basic cable packages. The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council had enough of the whining of far-left gladflies, and said "no mas" very quickly. Gillis complained that interviewer Krista Erickson talked over her, when it was in fact Gillis speaking over Erickson.

Kai Nagata left his job as CTV correspondant for the Quebec National Assembly amidst complaints about how the national media selects political stories.

All were declared to be "inspirational" figures by the far-left -- somehow all of the far-left's figures are "inspirational" even when they're actually banal and mediocre.

That seems to be the case with artist Franke James, who has been her own best publicist, alleging that the Canadian government pressured sponsors of her planned European tour into withdrawing. She also complains that embassies that were planning to host her exhibit also pulled out, and that government funds for the tour were withdrawn.

Sources with the Swiss insurance company that was sponsoring the tour and the government have each since stated that the funds had never been promised in the first place.

This makes James not only the most recent far-leftist to attempt to canonize herself as a left-wing political icon, but the most recent to describe the government's decision not to supply funds that hadn't actually been promised as a "funding cut".

There may be one other reason why James' would-be sponsor chose not to support her tour. That reason is that her work is simply not very good.

That also sets James up for the next evolution of her ideological canonization: for a while, the far-left will ride the Franke James bandwagon. Then, shortly after, Franke James, every bit as forgettable as Brigette DePape, Margie Gillis and Kai Nagata, will be forgotten in favour of the next mediocre, self-serving "inspirational" figure.

The far-left will find someone new whose mediocrity they will love just as much as Franke James'. The far-left will again hold up that person's mediocrity as if it's excellence, and again Canadians shall yawn.

Think of it as part of the circle of life.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Nycole Turmel's Professionalism Problem

Public service union bosses should reject partisanship

In Canada, there is a problem that public service unions refuse to admit is a problem; it's because it chiefly concerns them.

Canada's political discourse is far too often -- near constantly, in fact -- littered with partisan messaging on the part of public service unions. Under the leadership of now-NDP interim leader Nycole Turmel, the Public Service Alliance of Canada was one of these unions.

During the time Turmel was President of PSAC, the organization was endorsing Bloc Quebecois candidates. Turmel herself held memberships in the BQ and Quebec Solidaire, and was a self-described "activist for the NDP".

But in campaigning for the BQ, Quebec Solidaire and the NDP, Turmel essentially campaigned on who she thought her bosses -- or at least those of the members of the union she represented as President -- should be. It's incredibly improper, and the President of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada agrees.

“The professional institute is non-partisan and, when you become partisan - I am not going to speak about Ms Turmel per se - but when you display partisanship it impacts on your credibility,” Corbett mused.

“It is an issue for Ms Turmel,” he declared.

It would be a bigger issue for Turmel if she was still President of PSAC. Fortunately, she isn't.

The bigger question is whether the current leaders of PSAC can aspire to the higher standard of professionalism evident at PIPSC. It won't be hard to figure out if they do.

With Turmel occupying a high-ranking position with the NDP, a PSAC endorsement for the NDP will immediately fail the smell test. PSAC members and leadership will likely immediately excuse the funk, but it will give Canadian voters good reason to be concerned about the impartiality and professionalism of the public service.

Fortuantely, even though Nycole Turmel very clearly didn't care about this, Gary Corbett at least does. Hopefully current PSAC President John Gordon will aspire to Corbett's example, not Turmel's.

The Greatest Idea Whose Time Has Come

Britain must adopt Bill of Rights ASAP

Of all the facts about British politics not widely known to many outside of the UK -- and perhaps even to many within it -- is that the country lacks a comprehensive written constitution. It's the only democratic state that lacks such a document.

Britain has a constitution of sorts; in political science it's known as a British-style constitution, and they're commonplace throughout the Commonwealth. What this means is that the foundational law in Britain has written and unwritten components, formal and informal components.

It includes various statutes, privy council rulings, constitutional convention, and the rules of Parliament... among other components. But Britain's own constitution lacks what some would consider two key components: a formal bill of rights, and a formal written constitution -- which in the case of a British-style constitution basically amounts to an anchor law.

A formal bill of rights may finally be on the way. At the direction of the David Cameron-led coalition government, a commission considering the implementation of a bill of rights has been studying the subject.

As with so many things, it began amdist tensions with the European Union over the role of EU statutes within British law. In 2005, the European Union Court of Human Rights ruled that a British ban on prisoners voting was discriminatory. In February, British MPs voted to spurn that ruling.

This controversy has led to the formation of the commission, and the consideration of a bill of rights that would satisfy the European Convention on Human Rights, but would allow Britain the freedom to interpet that convention as it sees fit, rather than remain beholden to the EU court. In time, such a charter would be expected to replace the Human Rights Act.

Britain has long considered itself a leader in establishing the rights and freedoms of its citizens. The Magna Carta -- itself considered part of the anchorless British constitution -- was truly a milestone law in human civilization. That it has no formal bill of rights is a testament to the manner in which these rights and freedoms emerged in British law -- very slowly, over time -- but it's also been an egregious oversight.

The establishment of a British Bill of Rights is the greatest idea whose time came a long time ago. It's time for the UK to make it a formality by writing and passing a bill of rights as quickly as can be responsibly done.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

The Ultimate End Game for No One is Illegal

In Britain, the battle against Shariah law is intensifying.

In Wolfenstow, in East London, a group led by Anjem Choudary has set out to set up its very own Shariah law zone. They have even boasted that they've assembled vigilante groups to roam the streets enforcing Shariah law.

Among the prohibited activities in these zones are drugs, prostitution, gambling, alcohol, and music.

They've at least shown the courtesy of displaying posters declaring Wolfenstow to be a Shariah-controlled zone. Police, meanwhile, have promptly set to removing the posters everywhere they are put up. There is a law in London, and it is not Shariah law.

But if groups like No One is Illegal have their way, Shariah law in East London -- and around the world -- really will be unstoppable, as Choudary insists.

No One is Illegal has managed to remain obscure enough that their core beliefs remain a mystery to the vast majority of Canadians. But among them is the rejection of any idea of being a "good immigrant" and integrating into the societies they immigrate into.

In other words, No One is Illegal believes that people should be able to immigrate at will, then do as they will. So long as No One is Illegal can convince themselves that such people are not "colonizers", then everything is OK in their eyes.

For those paying attention to the group, NOII's response to this will finally clarify where they stand on the issues they themselves so eager racialize. If they stand up and declare that the clear colonizing tactics of these groups -- including the comically named "Muslims Against the Crusades", who are now waging a crusade of their very own.

If they declare the actions of this group to be acceptable, or failt to respond at all, it will be clear that NOII has a clear racial bias in the application of their own ideals; that only whites can colonize, even if individuals like Choudary will be far more unjust and oppressive than anything ever imagined by British settlers arriving in Canada.

No One is Illegal calls North America "occupied Turtle Island". What would their name be for an Islamic, theocratic Emirate established in Wolfentow? When one considers that their goal is for as many radical Shariah-backing Muslims to move about the world as wish to do so, perhaps it's entirely fair to consider it NOII's ultimate end game.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Nycole Turmel and the NDP's Achilles Heel

NDP interim leader's history comes back to haunt her

With NDP leader Jack Layton's health having taken another turn for the worse, many Canadians are wishing him a speedy recovery and return to the political battlefield.

But certainly almost none more than his followers in the NDP. Now more than ever.

Although the NDP made a decision not to diclose interim leader Nycole Turmel's memberships in the Bloc Quebecois and Quebec Solidaire -- both separatist parties -- to the public, it turns out that the Globe and Mail found out anyway. What has emerged since are numerous questions about Turmel's loyalties.

With whom do her loyalties lie?

Turmel says she is not a separatist. Despite her membership in two separate separatist parties, that is enough for this author. As it turns out, there are many reasons than just her flirtations with separatist political parties to doubt her loyalties.

In 2006, while Turmel was National President of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, PSAC endorsed a number of Bloc Quebecois candidates in the election.

“Bloc candidates are better prepared and more willing to cooperate with PSAC in furthering our causes,” PSAC declared during the 2006 election.

In the eyes of some, the detail that Turmel's and PSAC's endorsement of these BQ candidates was extended based on labour policy, not based on separatism, should allay any concerns about that endorsement. But those people are wrong.

That detail rather illuminates the detail that the organizations with which Turmel is involved -- whether by her hand or otherwise -- tend to develop a tendency to put their own agendas ahead of the interests of the country. That is a very disturbing thought. Unsurprising, but disturbing.

In the case of the Bloc, it's obvious: they put their agenda of separating Quebec from Canada ahead of Canada's interests. They also put Quebec's parochial interests ahead of Canada's on all issues. Turmel and the other so-called "soft separatists" who join the BQ know this full well.

In the case of PSAC, it's a matter of putting the interests of the union ahead of the country. It's bad enough that public service unions are permitted to make endorsements during election time in Canada -- effectively campaigning on who they think their bosses should be. It's that much worse that PSAC's position relating to these BQ candidates is that their bosses should be separatists. It casts a serious shadow over what PSAC has become.

Now, Nycole Turmel has -- however temporarily (one hopes) -- succeeded Jack Layton as the leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. And whether it's considering her separatist dabblings or the bizarre activities of PSAC under her watch, there are too many reasons to doubt her ultimate loyalty, and not enough reasons to invest faith in her.

And the NDP knows it. That is the reason for their fuming, raging response to the Turmel revelation. The NDP response has ranged from comical attempts to portray Prime Minister Stephen Harper as a separatist to equally-comical description of the reporting of Turmel's history as "harassment".

(That the left -- including countless NDP-affiliated individuals and organizations -- went through Harper's history with a fine-tooth comb in search of anything they could misrepresent in order to fan the flames of fear is a detail they themselves now choose to omit. Turnabout is fair play. Remember that.)

Once the NDP has gotten over their rage and fury, the first thing they need to do is set about picking a new interim leader. Unless Turmel can come up with a good explaination as to why it is that she maintained her Quebec Solidare membership so long after cancelling her BQ membership, and even after becoming interim opposition leader, she needs to resign post-haste and let a responsible MP take over the job.

This time around the NDP should disclose, not conceal, the history of their interim leader. While they're at it, perhaps they can disclose precisely how many of their MPs have been, or are now, separatists.

Then they should take the appropriate action with the lot of them, and cast them out.

The NDP is, after all, supposed to be a federalist party. It's high time they started acting like one. Otherwise, they can't simply content themselves with getting angry at the people who choose to fire some metaphorical arrows at their exposed Achilles' Heel.