That Sure Didn't Take Long

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 7:00 AM 0 comments


With opposition parties likely getting ready to gear up their law and order policy planks following yesterday's school shooting in Toronto, it's unsurprising that the Conservatives have reacted so quickly with a spot addressing crime.

With Stephane Dion likely to step up his gun control-related rhetoric in the aftermath of these shootings, the Conservatives seem to be moving to preemptively re-brand ahead of futher accusations on Dion's behalf that the Tories haven't made Canada a safer place.

In the ad -- clearly produced at the same time as the preceding "sweater vest" ads -- Harper talks about the need for preventative measures when dealing with crime, but notes that "soft on crime does not work".

The implicit accusation is that the opposition parties are soft on crime -- an accusation that could gain traction in wake of the opposition's treatment of various Conservative anti-crime bills.

In other words, the Conservative campaign is counter-branding the opposition as soft on crime even as it re-brands itself as the party of law and order.

Moreover, the advertising arm of the Conservative campaign is clearly operating just the way it should. It's been responsive to the news and proactive in regards to the opposition.

A question remains about whether the Tory crime spot is being released too soon following the high-profile Toronto shooting. But one thing's for certain: in terms of advertising, the Conservative machine is burying their competitors, and the party's extremely successful fundraising is helping them do it.

Dion's Problem With the the Economy

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 3:13 PM 0 comments
Stephane Dion's 'plan b' is still 'plan a'

With the Liberal campaign continuing to sag (yet somehow the Toronto Star figures it's "firing on all cylinders" -- Quelle surprise!), the common wisdom seems to be that Stephane Dion needs to stop talking about the Green Shift plan.

Because most Canadians are clearly more concerned about the economy, they argue, Dion should instead be talking about that.

Unfortunately for Dion, Dion's plan for the environment -- the Green Shift -- is also his plan for the economy.

And it only gets worse from there. As Conservative strategist Tim Powers points out in today's Globe and Mail, Bob Rae carries all kind of economic baggage with him from his days as the Premier of Ontario. Rae also managed to almost entirely alienate his former NDP followers -- the same followers the Liberal party will need to woo in order to stave off a third-place finish in this election, let alone win.

But Stephane Dion's environmental problem has become his campaign problem. And with little else of substance to campaign on, Dion may have no way out of this one -- and little hope of even holding on to the keys of Stornoway, let alone upgrading to 24 Sussex Drive.

Tory Eyes Blind to the World Outside?

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 11:48 PM 0 comments
Conservatives thin on foreign policy thinkersm experience

As conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Georgia continue to dominate the established international agenda and advocates for intervention in Zimbabwe, Myanmar and the Sudan continue to demand attention, there is no question that foreign policy will be a hot-button topic in the new Parliament regardless of which party wins the election.

On that note, some may be surprised to find out that, since current Minister of Foreign Affairs David Emerson has declined to run for reelection, the incumbent Conservative party is shockingly short on foreign policy expertise.

Emerson, most will recall, took over the portfolio from Maxime Bernier, whose misadventures with classified information made him a tremendous liability to cabinet. Previous to Bernier's ascension to the portfolio -- which speculation suggests he was never had any interest in -- Peter MacKay handled the department fairly successfully before being suffled to National Defense to make up for the emerging of deficiencies of previous minister Gordon O'Connor.

MacKay has since managed the Department of Defense effectively. Which leads one to wonder whom, precisely, Prime Minister Stephen Harper would appoint to Foreign Affairs following what currently seems to be an impending election victory.

As Embassy points out, however, the Conservatives seem to be suffering from a shortage of experience and expertise on the Foreign Affairs portfolio, while their various opponents seem to be awash in it.

First and foremost, naturally, there's Liberal Michael Ignatieff. Ignatieff has written extensively on the topic of human rights, ethnic conflict, and the laws of war. He also has a tremendous amount of journalistic experience under his belt, harkening to his days with the BBC.

The NDP's answer to Michael Ignatieff is Michael Byers. Byers is a recognized expert on arctic sovereignty issues, and served as part of the Amnesty International legal team that sought Augusto Pinochet's conviction for crimes against humanity.

Also representing the NDP is Brad Pye, who has experience advancing democracy abroad with the National Democratic Institute (which, unsurprisingly, has deep ties to the American Democratic party, serving to further undermine NDP complaints about alleged importing of American political ideas by the Conservative party).

Also running for the Liberals is Dr Kirsty Duncan, a former panelist on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- expertise which clearly falls into line with Stephane Dion's Green Shift agenda.

The Liberal ticket will also feature Anne Park Shannon, a former civil servant in the Department of Foreign Affairs.

War Child Canada president Dr Eric Hoskins will also be running for the Liberals. Hoskins will almost certainly supplement Liberal Senator Romeo Dallaire's expertise on issues related to children in warzones, particularly child soldiers.

Attempting a comeback is former Liberal Defense Minister David Pratt. Pratt has been out of Parliament since his 2004 defeat at the hands of Conservative Pierre Poillevre.

With arguably little expertise to spread between Foreign Affairs and Defense, Pratt would provide the Liberals with yet another weapon to use against the Conservative government -- provided, of course that he can manage to unseat Tory Environment Minister John Baird.

The Green party also has a score of candidates promoting themselves as foreign policy experts -- foremost among them the Ottawa Group of Four.

The Conservatives are considered to have one foreign policy heavyweight in their fold -- Patrick Boyer, who served in various foreign affairs-related sectors under Brian Mulroney. However, Boyer is running against the aforementioned Michael Ignatieff, and is as such unlikely to win.

With so many formidable (or at least formidable-seeming) opponents to compete against, it's a near certainty that foreign policy will be a weakpoint for the Conservatives not only during this election, but also during the upcoming Parliament.

There is, of course, a long-term solution to this problem: the Tories need to cultivate stronger relationships with the Senior Civil Service in the Department of Foreign Affairs, and need to start cultivating stronger relationships with various international Non Governmental Organizations.

That the Conservative party is attracting so few potential candidates from NGOs perhaps underscores a fundamental lack of understanding about the emerging shape of the global political order: one in which governments cooperate with civil society in the formulation of foreign policy.

The Conservatives are also clearly lacking a relationship with academia. If the Conservatives truly want to be able to claim to have an eye on the outside world, it would pay to start recruting from those who actually study it.

Until the Conservative party can muster some candidates with legitimate foreign policy chops, it will be hard to view a Conservative foreign policy as comprehensive and outward-looking.

September Officially Becomes Nexus Bloggiest Month Ever!

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 9:42 PM 0 comments
...And it's only the 16th. Fucking election.

And to all our valued readers, thank you for your support.

Stay tuned for what I confidently believe I can say is the best election coverage of any blog in Canada.

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Can Anyone Say "Leader of the Opposition Jack Layton"

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 5:31 PM 0 comments
19% of Canadians -- and counting -- can

As the 2008 federal election progresses, it seems that Liberal leader Stephane Dion may be sho' nuff fucked.

With Stephen Harper's Conservative party comfortably in control of this election with 38% support, Dion's Liberals are polling at 23% -- a narrow lead over Jack Layton's NDP, who are polling at 19%.

"Although it is clear that the Liberals retain a small edge, on some days the difference is within the margin of error," said Ekos president Frank Graves.

In other words, the Stephane Dion Liberals are statistically tied with the NDP.

This comes as Dion gathers his former leadership rivals around him for campaign help.

Which he could certainly use. After all, as the campaign progresses, some of Dion's star candidates are nowhere to be seen -- in particular, Michael Ignatieff has inexplicably been a non-entity during this election campaign.

It seems even perennial insufferable douchebag Scott Reid can figure this one out.

Whether even the combined popularity of Ignatieff, Bob Rae, Ken Dryden and Martha Hall Findlay (among others) can save Dion at this point is anyone's guess. (You were going to make a "Kermit De Frog" joke here, weren't you? I have a sixth sense for these things. -Ed)

...Unless, of course, there's a reason why some of his higher-profile "team members" don't seem to be so eager to be seen with him.

An election result with the Liberals being punted from the status of Official Opposition in favour of the NDP would unquestionably turf any further leadership ambitions on Dion's behalf. The smart money says that any one of these individuals would absolutely love to play hero and lead the Liberal party out of the dredges of third-party status and back into the government benches.

Which would, of course, cast the Jamie Carroll affair in a whole new light.

Carroll, as some may recall, resigned as the national director of the Liberal party over outrage over comments he made about the backroom deals being made in the name of the leadership ambitions of Dion's rivals.

Of course, before anyone can even begin to worry about that, they have to worry about the current election. The Liberals still have almost a month to turn this thing around.

"If the alarm bells are not ringing already at Liberal headquarters, they should now," Graves says.

The question is: are those alarm bells being heard?

Liberal Ad Strikes Back at Conservatives

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 4:11 PM 0 comments


In only their second English-language ad released during this election campaign, the Liberal party has finally deployed its first English-language counter-branding spot against Stephen Harper.

For some political parties, a week would be a long time to wait. For the cash-strapped Liberal party, maybe not so much.

That being said, the ad begins by pushing Harper's image closer to that of an unpopular American president. In a marginally creative shift, however, that president isn't George W Bush, although it is a Republican.

Instead, it's Ronald Regan, as the spot substitutes Harper's name into the "Reganomics" label so often used to describe Regan's trickle-down economic policies.

The ad first questions Harper's commitment to environmental policy. Obviously, the ad doesn't mention that Liberal MP Ralph Goodale recently admitted that, by the criteria that most environmental groups allegedly judge environmental policy, the Tory Green Plan is superior to the Liberal Green Shift.

The spot accuses the Conservatives of writing a "blank cheque" to oil companies to pollute and gouge Canadians at the gas pumps. Conservative Environment Minister John Baird has already struck back for the Tories on this issue, pointing out that the Green Shift plan would allow oilsand developers to continue polluting so long as they're willing to pay carbon taxes.

The spot also points out some of Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's comments about Ontario last year, wherein he questioned whether or not the province needed to cut corporate taxes in order to make investment in the province more viable.

The ad also notes the number of programs -- 66 in total according to the ad -- and accuses Harper of "divide and conquer politics".

This overlooks the fact that it's traditionally been the Liberals who have indulged themselves in "divide and conquer politics", pandering to Quebec and Ontario while largely ignoring the rest of the country. Only after the rise of the Bloc Quebecois have the Liberals been required to win seats across the country in order to form governments.

It's intriguing to see the Liberals, in the course of their counter-branding effort, trying to brand the Conservatives with a fault that has traditionally been their own.

Whether or not it works will be another story entirely.

The ad concludes by welcoming Canadians to "turn the page" with the Liberal Green Shift plan. The drab black-and-white images played during the "Harpernomics" portion of the ad is then substituted for colour images of promised environmentally-friendly prosperity under the Green Shift.

However, with the release of this ad -- their second ad promoting their vaunted Green Shift plan -- the Liberals are at risk of becoming a single-issue party.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives have released ads concerning immigration, foreign policy, trade policy, and child care. While none of these ads tell the viewer very much about the related Conservative policies, they make the Conservative platform seem a good deal more comprehensive than the Liberal alternative.

Meanwhile, the ad also has a pivotal weakness: it's certain to remind voters who don't like Harper why they dislike him, but they're unlikely to convince many undecided voters against him, nor do they make any real specific appeal for NDP or Green party voters to switch to the Liberals.

At least one thing can be said for certain: with their first anti-Harper ad on the air in English Canada, the Liberal campaign's gloves have effectively come off.

The second round of this election has officially begun.

Afghanistan - MacKay Still Has Questions to Answer

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 3:35 PM 0 comments
Questions remain concerning Canada's Post-2011 Role in Afghanistan

The promised 2011 end-date to Canada's combat mission in Afghanistan may be welcome to those many Canadians who end the war, but even in making this promise, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Defense Minister Peter MacKay have some explaining to do.

The now-planned end of the combat mission in 2011 doesn't constitute "cutting and running", according to MacKay. "Certainly not. We have been there in a military developmental and diplomatic role for some time now. We made significant contributions to the development of Afghanistan. We have done our share."

Of course, at the end of the day, it will matter very little as to whether or not Canada has "done its share" if the job remains undone.

Fortunately, in comments reported in the September 11th issue of the Globe and Mail, MacKay has suggested that Canada will maintain a role in Afghanistan after 2011.

"We're there in numerous roles. We're there participating in reconstruction and development through CIDA,” he said. "We have diplomats who are working in Kabul. We have a significant number of civilian police trainers and military trainers and there are of course going to be NGOs [non-governmental organizations], so Canada will continue to support the effort to rebuild Afghanistan."

"But the Stephen Harper was crystal clear. He said the mission ends in 2011 and that's consistent with the vote that was taken in Parliament. That's respecting Parliament's voice."

Unfortunately, there are questions that remain unanswered. To have CIDA and Canadian diplomats at work in Afghanistan after 2011 is all and good, but an important question remains:

Afghanistan will almost certainly remain a theatre of warfare after 2011. As such, Canadians need to know who will fill the role of securing said theatre for our aid workers and diplomats.

To effect a full-scale withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan -- as Stephen Harper has indicated -- would be, as Jim Davis has noted -- irresponsible.

And not merely so the deaths of the soldiers already killed in Afghanistan aren't in vain, because it would be irresponsible to leave our aid workers and diplomats in harm's way.

In the end, only one real option remains: that of Canadian troops remaining in Afghanistan to ensure our aid workers and diplomats are properly protected. This would, by necessity, mean Canadian troops staying in Afghanistan in more than simply a "technical" role.

MacKay and Harper may want to wait until after the election to make any final decisions on Afghanistan. After all, it may be "Parliament's wishes" that the combat mission in Khandahar end at that time, but if "Parliament's wishes" are that Canadian diplomats and CIDA workers remain in Afghanistan protected only by the good graces of the Afghan army and our NATO allies, Parliament as a whole may find itself explaining itself to Canadians in the event that any of them come to harm.

Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay most certainly don't want to find themselves at the forefront of that.

Hillary Clinton & Sarah Palin On Sexism

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 11:00 AM 0 comments

Can the Tories Sweep Saskatchewan?

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 9:00 AM 0 comments
Green Shift plan not playing well in Saskatchewan

As observers look ahead to the results of the 14 October federal election, two questions loom large.

First: will the Conservatives sweep Alberta again?

Second: can the Conservatives sweep Saskatchewan?

In Alberta, the prospects of another smothering Conservative victory remain strong. Although Rahim Jaffer could be upset in Edmonton-Strathcona and Laurie Hawn will have to work hard to hold Edmonton Centre, the Tories still have a solid provincial victory earlier in the year giving them the momentum they need to maintain their lock on Alberta.

In Saskatchewan, meanwhile, Wascana MP Ralph Goodale remains the only Liberal awash in a sea of blue.

He was one of two non-Conservative MPs in the province until Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River MP Gary Merasty resigned his seat. In a by-election he was replaced by Conservative Rob Clarke, who defeated Liberal Joan Beatty. Beatty had been hand-chosen by Stephane Dion over current candidate David Orchard, who had been chosen by the party's riding association.

Orchard has already called for Dion to soften the Green Shift's inevitable impact on farmers.

Orchard has, against Dion's inclinations, been cast into a star candidate role in Saskatchewan. But that isn't where Liberal troubles end in the province. Not by a longshot.

Just as in Alberta, conservatives in Saskatchewan have an election victory -- this one by Brad Wall's Saskatchewan party -- to provide them with momentum.

Wall has come out and criticized Liberal leader Stephane Dion's Green Shift plan. Wall noted that the Green Shift plan would result in a loss of $500 million per annum for Saskatchewan and a 41% increase in electricity costs by 2012.

For his own part, Goodale denounced Wall's claims as "crock of unmitigated horsefeathers."

Unfortunately for Goodale, horses don't have feathers, and Scott Brison, one of the masterminds of the Green Shift plan, has already admitted that the plan will result in higher electicity costs.

"Their arithmetic is just completely wrong, mistaken and false," Goodale insisted, noting that corporate tax cuts accompanying carbon taxation should make up for the extra costs. In theory.

"This is the old Conservative tactic of throw enough mud against the fan and hope everyone gets splattered," Goodale added.

According to political scientist Ken Rasmussen, Wall's comments likely won't have much effect on the election in Saskatchewan. "This is a province that the Tories have, I wouldn't say sewn up, but they're probably going to be quite effective in retaining their seats," he noted.

University of Saskatchewan political scientist David McGrane thinks otherwise. "The fact that Premier Wall has been so outspoken in saying that the Green Shift is harmful for Saskatchewan, that's definitely going to play in favour of the Conservatives," he predicted.

Meanwhile, David Orchard may be stepping on the wrong toes in Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River by opposing uranium mining. This in a rural riding where the Green Shift will almost certainly prove to be anathema. “The proposed carbon tax will spell economic doom for the north, in forestry, exploration, farming. Orchard is against uranium mining and oil development,” Rob Clarke noted. “The carbon tax is going to increase fuels costs and raise costs on all household items. Being in government, I will prevent that from happening."

Stephen Harper has offered solid support of his candidate in Wascana, Michelle Hunter.

Clearly, Harper understands the value of unseating Goodale, a former Finance Minister.

For his own part, Goodale insists that the Liberal Green Shift plan would be less costly than the Conservative plan. "They are going to impose costs by imposing their regulations and the target they're aiming at is 35 per cent more severe than Mr Dion's plan. But the crucial difference is that the Dion plan has across-the-board income tax cuts for every family, every individual, every business in the country that will add up to the biggest reduction in income tax in Canadian history," Goodale insisted.

So, while Goodale admits that, by the measuring stick that most environmentalists are measuring climate change policy, Harper's plan is better, Goodale wants to insist that, well, the Liberal plan will at least be cheaper.

Goodale and the Liberals can't even seem to play straight with the environmental lobby.

All the while many Canadians remain concerned about Dion's plans for potential carbon tariffs and seeming lack of a post-Green Shift vision, particularly vis a vis the recovery of lost revenue once carbon tax revenues decline with greenhouse gas emissions.

The Liberals have their work cut out for them in Saskatchewan. Come October 14, Saskatchewan could be joing Alberta adorned in Tory blue.

Canadians Thinking Less of Our Leaders

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 7:00 AM 0 comments
Election costs party leaders in public regard

As the 2008 federal election progresses, each party leader is hoping to make a positive impression on Canadians and improve their party's standings in the House of Commons.

Almost inevitably, some parties will accomplish the latter. But a poll released yesterday reveals that none have yet accomplished the latter. In fact, Canada's political leaders have done the precise opposite.

Stephen Harper's sweater vest and lack-lustre campaign ads couldn't save him from being the leader losing the most -- 36% of polled Canadians hold him in lesser regard, likely due to an unprincipled election call and a pair of serious campaign gaffes on the part of his Conservative Party.

Liberal leader Stephane Dion suffered as well. 32% of Canadians hold him in lower regard following a week in which he claimed he wanted an open debate about his Green Shift plan, but instead settled for calling his Conservative opponents liars.

Jack Layton tried to emulate Barack Obama, but 15% of Canadians found him to be considerably less appealing than that.

23% of polled Canadians found Gilles Duceppe less appealing. Picking at the religious beliefs of a Conservative candidate probably didn't help him much, but then again the only numbers that are really applicable to Duceppe are the ones collected in Quebec.

Hopefully, Canada's political leaders will avert the course they've been following and give Canadians a little less reason to feel cynical and discouraged about our politics.

Is It Or Isn't It?

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 4:04 PM 0 comments
Elizabeth May confrims why she shouldn't have been allowed in the debate

In what should be treated as cause for second thought for those Canadians who support Elizabeth May taking part in the televised leaders' debate, Green party leader Elizabeth May told CTV's Question Period today that she's going to help Stephane Dion explain his Green Shift plan to the Canadian people.

Moreover, she actually wants to take credit for the entire policy.

"Since it's our plan, the 'Green Shift' plan, I can explain it fully," May insisted.

This could certainly put an amusing twist on Stephen Harper's insistence that "Elizabeth May is not an opponent of Stephane Dion. She is his candidate in Central Nova, and I think it would be fundamentally unfair to have two candidates who are essentially running on the same platform in the debate."

Apparently, Stephane Dion may in fact be Elizabeth May's candidate in St Laurent-Cartierville. After all, she's formally taking credit for his policies.

To her partial credit, May has voiced some disagreement with Dion on some issues.

"Where I agree with him, I'll agree with him," she insisted. "And where I disagree with him -- on issues like NAFTA, nuclear power, some of the economic policies that the Liberals have traditionally espoused -- I will be taking him on in a respectful way, as I will the other leaders."

Yet on the fundamental issue on which Dion wants to contest this election -- "his" (apparently actually Elizabeth May's) Green plan -- May has already formally pledged herself to help him during the debates.

All of this, even as she and Dion decline to field candidates against one another, and as Blair Wilson -- conveniently, a former Liberal -- conveniently defects to her party. And May still claims there's no backroom deal.

"I think the notion of a backroom pact is such nonsense," she told Question Period.

At least one thing's for certain: if May and Dion haven't made themselves utterly transparent -- and their backroom deal obvious -- by this point, May will do so for the both of them the instant she utters "What Stephane is trying to say" during the course of the debate.

If further evidence that May's inclusion of the debates is actually needed, one can rest assured that May will provide it in time. If not on Oct 1 & 2, then sooner.

Who Are the "Ottawa Group of Four"?

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 3:00 PM 0 comments
Maillet, Lemieux, Ghanem and Manoussi have big leftist-utopian dreams

When Ottawa-area Green party candidate Qais Ghanem recently drew some criticism over his attitude toward Israel, an interesting sub-plot emerged in the Green party's attempts to convince themselves they're politically relevant in Canada: that of the "Ottawa group of four".

Consisting of Ghanem, Paul Maillet, Sylvie Lemieux and Akbar Manoussi, the group is made up of four Ottawa-area candidates cumulatively promoting their own policies both in the course of a federal election, and within the Green party itself.

In the end, there may be no better way to judge the Group of Four then by their policies. Fortunately, they've been kind enough to supply anyone enterprising enough to look with a list.

The "Ottawa Group of Four 2008 Proposed Policy Resolutions" document takes pains to note that it "does not necessarily represent the official policy
of the Green Party of Canada." It covers topics ranging from electoral reform to policy development.

From surveying the proposed resolutions, it would seem that Paul Maillet is the ringleader of the Group of Four -- he sponsors seven of the resolutions. Sylvie Lemieux sponsors another five. The remaining resolution -- the infamous "Palestine" resolution -- is sponsored by Qais Ghanem.

In all, the document presents 14 recommendations. The first deals with electoral reform:

"Resolution 1 - Electoral Reform

Whereas we believe that Canadians want to be governed by a parliament more fully representative of Canada.

Whereas we believe that Canadians want to be governed only by directly elected people; in a fair, transparent and open process in which every Member of Parliament faces the voters.

Whereas the Green Party strongly believes in electoral reform.

Therefore it be resolved that the Green party of Canada advocate electoral reform in terms of the minimum criteria of a Canada governed by a parliament more fully representative of Canada, and a Canada governed only by directly elected people in a fair, transparent and open process.

Therefore is also be resolved that the minimum representative constituencies in parliament be (1) political parties in proportion of the popular vote, (perhaps based on a 3-5% threshold of votes, and perhaps members selected from the vote and rank-ordered from non-elected candidates) and (2) our National Diversity such as to ensure gender balance, major language groups, and aboriginal peoples, in proportion of the most recent national census results (and perhaps selected from the vote and rank-ordered from non-elected candidates regardless of party affiliation to fill imbalances).
"
One wonders if Ghanem, Lemieux, Maillet and Manoussi stopped to consider the contradictory nature of this resolution.

The four start out by recognizing that Canadians continue to favour the ability to elect their representatives directly "in a fair, transparent and open process." Yet they resolve that Canada's electoral system be reformed to elect Members of Parliament proportionally -- a process under which its utterly impossible to elect them directly.

Furthermore, even under mixed-member plurality systems, in which a portion of Parliament would be elected under the existing first-past-the-post system and another portion elected proportionally, the question of precisely how Members of Parliament would be selected remains a critical one.

Interestingly, the four seem to have their answer -- these members should be selected through an affirmative action program.

Of course, the question of who would make the decisions regarding who gets elected to Parliament under such a system is another matter entirely. Suffice to say there is virtually no way such a system could be administered in a fully open and transparent manner.

The second resolution proposed by the group of four addresses the very nature of Green Party policy:

"Resolution 2 - Vision Green Reformatting

Whereas the GPC
wishes to obtain seats in the Parliament in the next general election.

Whereas the GPC wishes to be a full spectrum party and not a single-issue party.

Whereas the GPC needs to expand its voter base beyond the existing environmental constituency, and that GPC wishes to appeal and be sensitive, credible and involved in all issues of concern of the voters.

Whereas the document “Vision Green” is heavily oriented in its current format to environmental issues, and can be perceived as almost marginalizing other issues. The current index reads Part 1: the green economy, Part 2: averting climate catastrophe , Part 3: preserving and restoring the environment , Part 4: people, Part 5: the planet needs Canada (and vice versa), Part 6: good government

Whereas effective campaign and marketing success is critically dependent on identifying voter issues and needs, speaking their language, and gaining their trust by addressing their needs within a clear integrity framework.

Whereas the GPC wishes to appeal to voters beyond the green constituency that is already in place.

Therefore it be resolved that the Vision Green document be reformatted to directly address, better balance and better reflect the broader needs of Canadians as a whole, and their wider expectations of elected members of parliament.

As a minimum, initial main subject areas, equally weighted and emphasized, are suggested as the Environment, the Economy, Tax reform, Health care, Education, Crime Prevention, Diversity and Human rights, Aboriginal affairs, Good government, Electoral reform, International affairs, Peace and security and Quality of life (all others).
"
Resolution number two is merely a statement on the importance of the Green Party formulating a wide vareity of non-environmental policies.

This is simply wise politics for a party that would like to one day contend for national power -- even if right now its willing to settle for being a sidekick for the Liberal party.

"Resolution 3 - Issues of Conscience

Whereas our values commit us to Social Justice “acting to secure basic human rights and build a just society”; Nonviolence, in that “every act of violence delays our progress toward a just society; Diversity in that “we honour the diversity of life on our planet. All diversity of the Earth's people has intrinsic value”; Personal and Global Responsibility in that “we must learn to take responsibility for ourselves, our families, our communities and ultimately for our planet”; and Ecological Wisdom in that “when we damage the web of life, we damage ourselves”.

Whereas there is a class of issues relating to issues of conscience, in which moral uncertainty exists, and which may be extremely personal and difficult in terms of competing rights, and potentially divisive in the party, and potentially exclusive of major voting groups.

Whereas within Green party values of respect for diversity, non-violence, compassion, intrinsic value of life, rights to existence, and broader human rights, we will respect the rights of members to make personal moral decisions in identified areas of moral uncertainty, which may be different from other member decisions.

Whereas we are a party of shared values. We are a party with the highest standards of ethical values. We are an inclusive party and respect differences of belief. This is what attracted us to the Green Party. This is what make us unique compared to other parties. We promote an inclusive values-based application to issues, rather than a power-based application.

Therefore it be resolved that being a party of shared values, and respecting the right of party members to exercise such party values, that certain and significant “issues of conscience” such as relating to religion, euthanasia and abortion and others as may be identified by the party, are subject to free votes and free positions among party candidates and members.

Whereas that being a party of shared values and respecting the right of members to express differing opinion in free and open debate and free from reprisal.
"
The issues of consience resolution is actually quite constructive. It would promise free rein to Green party MPs to vote according to their conscience on a wide vareity of issues.

However, not all is as rosy as it would seem. The Group of Four has still left themselves a club with which to handle party dissidents:

"Whereas that once important and identified policies resolutions and positions are taken, that are not trivial or morally ambiguous, and adopted through the democratic process, that all are obligated to support such positions in good faith as a condition of party membership."
Which makes one wonder how the group of four would address Green party members or MPs dissenting from some of the Group of Four's policy resolutions -- in particular the highly controversial "Palestine" resolution (to be addressed shortly).

"Whereas we acknowledge that all GPC policy, resolutions and party positions may not cover all eventualities or situations and exceptions may arise, such as involving differences between rural and urban ridings.

Whereas as a duty of GPC integrity and respect to our members, the GPC wishes to respect the right of members to disagree or hold differing opinions, if differences remain consistent with party values, be non-trivial, and within a framework of disclosure and consensus with the GPC.

Therefore it be resolved that the GPC develop a values-based process for the efficient and timely consideration of requests to publicly adopt differing positions based in special, extraordinary and justified circumstances.
"
In fact, it would seem that Green party members and MPs would actually have to seek permission from the party leadership in order to dissent from the party line on that particular issue.

That being said, this is an issue that could prove useful to Green party leader Elizabeth May. After all, May's own views on abortion may find herself outside the party line on the topic.

It may also prove useful to Ghanem himself, who hs proven to have sympathy for the 9/11 "truth" movement.

"Resolution 5 - Organizational Ethics in the GPC

Whereas the GPC is a party of high moral values and ethics, notably honesty and respect, for which it is willing to be held accountable.

Whereas the GPC conducts its affairs in a complex matrix of relationships, power and diversity that have ethical context and risk; such as in GPC party affairs and each other, EDA affairs, media interaction, interaction with competing parties, election campaigns, candidate nomination selection activity, fundraising, voter interactions, and policy development and others.

Whereas the GPC wishes to set the highest example of ethics in politics and party affairs.

Whereas GPC wishes to tangibly demonstrate its commitment to ethical conduct, in a manner that respects GPC values, and informs our judgement, decision-making and relationships.

Therefore it be resolved that GPC develop and implement an ethics program based on organizational ethics best practices and the highest ethical standards, which will include ethical guidelines for the GPC leadership and membership relating to the ethical conduct and ethical risk management within the GPC and in our external relationships.
"
Resolution five may seem like some mundane administrative jargon, but it confirms that the party is beginning to grow to a posiiton at which it's starting to think more about the ordinary, pragmatic day-to-date issues in running a political party rather than merely being a political outlet for the idealism of its members.

Resolution six follows in a much different vein:

"Resolution 6 – International Affairs Policy Framework

Whereas the GPC believes that Canada must fully assert our values in international affairs, and meet our obligations to the global community.

Whereas the GPC desires a consistent and values based approach to foreign policy, international affairs, foreign aid and development, and peace and security activities.

Whereas we believe that Canada’s commitment to the global community is a commitment to advocacy, leadership and action in human rights, peace and security, good governance, environmental responsibility and sustainable economic development.

Therefore it be resolved that the GPC is guided in its international policy by the following principles:

1. We commit to a value based and socially responsible approach in all our global relationships.
2. We accept to be accountable for the highest global, social and environmental values, and commit to transparency and public oversight.
3. We assert that the security and prosperity of Canada is contingent on a secure and stable world and we will contribute to global security and stability.
4. In conflict zones, we commit to a three-pillar approach of; (1) diplomacy and human rights – (2) aid and development – (3) peace and security.
5. In conflict zones, we commit to the primacy of “diplomacy and human rights”.
6. We commit to neutrality, dialogue, non-violence, ceasefire and reconciliation activity in “peace and security” operations.
7. We commit to “Aid and Development” to global humanitarian crisis and human development.
8. We believe that foreign “aid and development” requires a coherent approach to good governance, rights and freedoms, poverty reduction, health improvement, education strengthening, gender equity, sustainable economic development, and environmental responsibility.
"
In essence, the "Group of Four" is advocating that Canadian Foreign Policy be transformed into a political outlet for their personal idealism.

Little is outlined about the specific role the military would play under a Green party government -- although we can imagine. Many references are made to "the primacy of diplomacy", but little said about what happens when diplomacy fails. Numerous references are made about human rights, but nothing is said about how a Green party government would address states that violate human rights.

These turn out to be important issues to overlook as one turns toward the next resolution:

"Resolution 7 - Afghanistan

Whereas the GPC desires to maintain a consistent values based policy response to international crises of interest to Canada as part of our approach to foreign policy and international affairs.

Whereas Vision Green provides operational and implementation detail of Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan.

Whereas the situation in Afghanistan remains extremely volatile and subject to unknown and unforeseen circumstances.

Therefore it be resolved that the GPC evolve its role in Afghanistan according to the following principles;

1. That Canada re-assert a values-based approach to restoring peace, stability and alleviating suffering in Afghanistan, through a revised mission mandate emphasizing “peace making in this conflict zone”. That Canada develop proficiency in “high risk diplomacy” in this mission.
2. That Canada reorient the Canadian military and the overall mission towards neutrality and against offensive combat operations in Afghanistan. That the Canadian military force structure in Afghanistan realigned with the new “peacemaking” role.
3. That Canada shift offensive combat operations to the Afghan national authority but agree to assist with Afghan force and policing training and operational support.
4. That in support of human rights, environmental and economic strengthening, Canada conducts humanitarian aid, governance development and reconstruction projects.
5. That the primary function of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan be diplomacy through the creation of safe spaces for all parties involved, and the facilitation of dialogue with the aim of stopping the violence and beginning the process of reconciliation.
6. That the primary military role be to contribute to diplomatic activity, through initial contact with all parties in conflict, protection of military and civilian diplomatic staff, and protection of safe space activity.
7. That a secondary military role be the protection of all mission components be they defence forces, diplomatic staff, humanitarian aid agencies, governance development and reconstruction activity.
"
First off, the Green party insists that we stop fighting the Taliban (thereby making it easier for them to return to power), then start negotiating.

The Group of Four seems to imagine Canadian forces defending areas of neutrality within Afghanistan so their imagined negotiations can proceed. However, their approach suffers from two key misconceptions:

First off, the Taliban is not interested in negotiating in any realistic sense. Secondly, the world knows full well what the Taliban plans to re-institute in Afghanistan upon re-taking power there, and that should be considered non-negotiable to anyone with a legitimate concern for human rights.

The eighth resolution is the infamous "Palestine" resolution:

"Resolution 8 - Palestine

Whereas the Green Party of Canada unequivocally supports the human rights of all people in the world, equally;

Whereas UN General Assembly Resolution 194, (re-passed 28 times) affirms the right of Palestinians to return to their homes and property; and its Charter stipulates that there can lawfully be no territorial gains from war; even by a state acting in self defence;

Whereas article 49 of the Geneva Convention states that the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own population into the territory it occupies;

And whereas all Arab states, in the “Saudi Peace Plan” of March 2002 in Beirut and endorsed by 57 Muslim states, have offered Israel a full and permanent peace, with normal diplomatic relations, in return for Israel’s withdrawal from occupied land to the 1967 borders;

And whereas the Green Party of the United States has demanded that Israel cease its violent actions against the Palestinian people, and proposed an international peacekeeping body to enforce a Middle East ceasefire;

Therefore it be resolved that the Green Party of Canada calls upon Israel to end its forty year occupation of all occupied land without preconditions, and calls upon the resistance movement in Palestine to simultaneously halt all violent action against Israel and for both parties to begin to implement the “Saudi Peace Plan”, without delay.
"
In a certain sense, "Palestine" seems to be less malignant than originally thought.

However, it remains scant on key details that make it seem much less than benign. For example, the resolution asserts the right of Palestinians to "return to their homes and property". It doesn't seem to address the claims of numerous Palestinians to the entirety of the country.

Furthermore, it overlooks the fact that Israel has been at a continuous state of de facto warfare ever since its establishment. There is a great deal of virtue to be found in the argument that Israel should relinquish the West Bank and the other occupied territories. Yet, under the duress of attacks by Islamic and Palestinian terrorist groups, Israel has never truly known peacetime.

The resolution wisely calls upon Palestian groups to cease violent action against Israel, just as it calls upon Israel to cease violent action against Palestians. Yet it seems to overlook that many elements of Islamic culture in the Middle East have begun to honour those who perpetrate violence against Israelis -- even children -- and celebrating them as heroes.

How can one honestly expect Palestinian groups to cease violent action against Israel in a cultural climate where a man who smashes an Israeli child's head in (while her father watches) is hailed as a hero?

Resolution nine is another resolution that could be effected by the Group of Four's "issues of conscience" resolution:

"Resolution 9 – Euthanasia

Whereas on 15 June 2005, Bill C-407, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Right to Die with Dignity) was introduced by Francine Lalonde (La Pointe-de-l’Île, Quebec). Due to the subsequent dissolution of Parliament and the call of a federal election, a vote did not take place and the Bill was not subsequently re-introduced after the election.

Whereas Bill C-407 would have amended sections 14 (Consent to Death), 222 (Homicide), and 241 (Counseling or aiding suicide) of the Criminal Code so that, provided that certain criteria are met, a person who assists another person to die would be neither committing a homicide nor counseling or aiding suicide. The bill would have required that the individual whose death is assisted to meet detailed provisions such as being at least 18 years old; either experiencing “severe physical or mental pain without any prospect of relief” or terminally ill; made a free and informed wish to die; have designated a person who aids him or her to die.
Whereas the bill would also have required that the person who is assisting the death to meet detailed provisions including; involvement of a medical practitioner; confirmation of the diagnosis from one or two medical practitioners; be entitled by law to provide this assistance; to act as directed by the individual whose death is assisted; and provide the coroner with a copy of the diagnosis from the confirming medical practitioners.

Therefore, be it resolved that the GPC support the re-introduction in Parliament of new Bill similar to Bill C-407.
"
Once again, one may wonder how the Group of Four would respond if their own "issues of conscience" resolution was used to resist their "euthanasia" policy?

Only time -- and an unlikely Green party election victory -- could tell.

The next two resolutions deal with aboriginal peoples:

"Resolution 10 - Aboriginal Affairs – Redress for Losses

Whereas many recommendations of the 1990 the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples have not been implemented.

Whereas Provincial, territorial and the Canadian governments have benefited greatly from Aboriginal peoples' loss of lands and resources.

Therefore, be it resolved the provincial and territorial and the Canadian governments issue a sincere apology for suffering and loss, and fully acknowledge a moral and a legal responsibility to participate fully in measures to restore self-reliance and autonomy, including land redistribution, the redesign of government responsibilities, and arrangements for co-management of shared resources.
"
This, in particular is a resolution that many land-owning Canadians may not like.

After all, what could be said about this in Montreal, where the entirety of the downtown area is subject to an (as yet) unresolved aboriginal landclaim? What about British Columbia, where some of the claims actually exceed the sum of the land actually in British Columbia?

Furthermore, there is also the matter of the public outcry that arises whenever a politician talks about the need to restore autonomy and self-reliance to Canada's aboriginal peoples (the latter of the two propositions clearly being the allegedly troublesome one).

"Resolution 11 - Aboriginal Affairs – Nationhood Status

Whereas because of their original occupancy of the country, the treaties that recognized their rights, the constitution that affirms those rights, and their continued cohesion as peoples, the GPC believes that aboriginal peoples are distinct political entities and nations within Canada - with their own character and traditions, a right to their own autonomous governments, and a special place in the flexible federalism that defines Canada.

Whereas the GPC believes that our government must make a clear commitment to renewing the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, guided by recognition, respect, sharing and responsibility.

Therefore be it resolved that a new relationship with aboriginal peoples be defined and reflected in new legislation that includes:

1. An Aboriginal Nations Recognition and Government Act, to recognize Aboriginal nations and make interim arrangements to finance their activities.
2· An Aboriginal Treaties Implementation Act, to establish processes and principles for recognized nations to renew their existing treaties or create new ones; and to establish regional treaty commissions to facilitate and support treaty negotiations, and that this be conducted by representatives of the governments concerned.
3· An Aboriginal Lands and Treaties Tribunal Act, to establish an independent body to decide on specific claims, ensure that treaty negotiations are conducted and financed fairly, and protect the interests of affected parties while treaties are being negotiated.
4· An Aboriginal Parliament Act, to establish a parliamentary body to represent Aboriginal peoples within federal governing institutions and advise Parliament on matters affecting Aboriginal people.
5· An Aboriginal National Relations and Services Department Act, to establish a department to implement the new relationship with Aboriginal nations, to administer continuing services for groups not yet self-governing; and replace the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
"
While the base principle of this resolution -- the recognition of aboriginal bands as autonomous self-governing peoples and direct partners in the enterprise of Canadian federalism -- is a huge step in a positive direction, there remain numerous problems with this resolution.

First off, the insistence that aboriginal peoples must be recognized as autonomous and self-reliant conflicts drastically with the notion of funding their governments on an indefinite basis. University of Calgary Political Scientist Tom Flanagan is right when he notes that the best solutions to the dilemmas surrounding aboriginal peoples and their relationship with the Canadian government will inevitably include granting these bands the power to collect taxes within their jurisdiction.

However, the notion of replacing the Department of Indian Affairs with a department that would function on a more cooperative basis would be good for all Canadians, not just aboriginals.

The twelfth resolution is actually quite novel:

"Resolution 12 – Extending the order table through dissolution of Parliament

Whereas the GPC believes that the passage of legislation should be one of the highest priorities of the affairs of the parliament of Canada.

Whereas the creation of bills and legislation require a substantial investment of time and effort on the part of the public, committees, public servants, elected members, ministers, and others, and at a high cost to taxpayers.

Whereas on dissolution of parliament for an election, existing bills are lost from the order table of parliament (the order of business).

Therefore be it resolved that the GPC advocate for the amendment of parliamentary rules and procedures and the creation of a parliamentary committee, which will review bills existing previous to the dissolution, and recommend bills, with all party support, past third reading, and that transcend partisan politics, “to stand” and be included in the new order table of the new government.
"
This is the kind of legislative reform that should have existed in Canada a long time ago. While many politicians would likely oppose such a reform due to the time it would take away from their reelection campaigns, enacting such a reform would remind politicians and Canadians as a whole that doing the country's business must come before petty partisan or electoral concerns.

Finally, the 13th resolution deals with the currently malignant environment in which the Canadian Parliament has conducted itself -- an environment that all of our political parties and elected officials have contriubted to:

"Resolution 13 – Decorum In Parliament

Whereas the GPC do not accept the current manner that politics is practiced in this country; and want to change the way politics is conducted for the better.

Whereas we believe in of integrity in government, characterized by a cooperative, honest, respectful and responsible parliament and we will act accordingly.

Whereas it is observed that the behaviour of members of parliament in the House of Commons is on regular occasions unacceptable in terms of decorum, common courtesy and respect.

Whereas the GPC wishes to set an example of a new standard in Parliament which reflects that highest standards of respect and courtesy and be worthy of the public trust.

Therefore be it resolved that in the GPC develop and publish a code of conduct for our elected members of Parliament, which will set an example to others, and to which we are willing to be held accountable. This code will articulate the standards of dignity and respect we and the public want from our elected officials.
"
One of the best ways to disperse the typically acrimonious environment of Canadian Parliament is, indeed, for one of Canada's political parties to agree to lead by example. Naturally, any one of Canada's parties would currently claim to be leading by example. For the Green party to come out and actually do so would be a welcome example.

Of course, there's more to the Ottawa Group of Four than this package of policies. But it is interesting to consider what the Green party may or may not become under the leadership or influence of such a clique.

Many Canadians may want to question whether or not Canada can go where the Ottawa Group of Four would have the Green Party lead it, or even if it should.

Quick! Buy Another Case of Embarrass-mints!

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 11:00 AM 0 comments

Murray Dobbin on Canadian Foreign Policy

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 9:00 AM 0 comments


Dobbin waxes eloquent about mythical Canada

Coming once again via the Real News Network, Murray Dobbin insists that Canada's engagement in Afghanistan somehow imperils Canadian culture.

Dobbin recites all the tired left-wing rhetoric surrounding Afghanistan: that the combat mission was accepted to appease the United States, that Canadian forces are "occupying" Afghanistan, and Canada is becoming too "American".

But Dobbin makes a serious misstep when he insists that the "military is being integrated into what has been a strictly non-military culture."

Dobbin is either a tremendously poor student of Canadian history, or has simply allowed his reading of Canadian history to be distorted beyond recognition by his personal ideological preferences.

Canadian culture has never been "strictly non-military". Historians are in general agreement that notions of Canada as a sovereign state -- as opposed to merely a British colony -- came out of a military engagement: the Second World War. Historians agree that Canadians -- like the citizens of many British colonies -- came out of WWII believing that Canada had earned its sovereignty by playing a critical role in winning the European conflict.

Canadians have always taken pride in our military. Canadians have been known to boast about the "make-do" ingenuity of Canadian service men and women, who perform amazing feats with equipment many others would be considered ill-suited to the task.

We come together as Canadians every 11th of November to honour the sacrifices of our service men and women. Those sacrifices were predominantly made during times of war -- mostly during the First World War, Second World War and Korean War, although various Peacekeeping missions and the Afghan war have also added to the ranks of the remembered dead.

One of Canada's great national symbols, the Snowbirds, is made up of Air Force pilots specially trained to perform aerial stunts. They are world-renowned for their skill and artistry.

Even the Peacekeeping that Dobbin and his ideological stalwarts laud is carried out not by civilians, but by military personell. It was the labours of such military personell that helped Prime Minister Lester Pearson secure his Nobel Peace Prize -- again, a symbol of pride for Canadians.

Dobbin clearly misunderstands the role of the military in Canadian history. There is nothing un-Canadian about the military.

Dobbin also trots out a conspiracy theory suggesting that the engagement in Afghanistan is being fought primarily to secure a proposed pipeline through Afghanistan. The pipeline would carry natural gas from Turkmenistan to foreign markets.

However, Dobbin should be interested to learn that the pipeline in question would not be carrying natural gas to American or European markets, but rather to India and Pakistan. Furthermore, no war effort would have ever been needed to secure that pipeline, considering that the Taliban was in favour of building the pipeline.

Dobbin also accuses Stephen Harper and the Conservatives of being in league with George W Bush in allegedly trying to surround Russia with NATO states friendly to the United States.

But Dobbin should also keep in mind that Georgia and the Ukraine applied to NATO for membership, and that membership has still not yet been granted. It seems illogical for NATO to drag its feet on granting full membership -- as opposed to their current associate membership -- if their goal is to encircle Russia.

Dobbin argues that Harper and the Conservatives are backing American foreign policy despite it being against Canada's interests. But he may want to double-check what Canada's interests really are.

To begin with, Central and Eastern Canada remain energy importers. Thus, Canada has an interest in helping to break Russian dominance over east European and west Asian energy markets.

Furthermore, Canada has a very real interest in helping to corral states that harbour terrorists -- not to mention interests in promoting human rights by ensuring that one of the world's worst abusers of human rights does not return to power in Afghanistan.

In the end, Dobbin engages in some base defeatism. Canada cannot win in Afghanistan, he insists, although he, like his ideological stalwarts, have made a habit of overlooking successes in Afghanistan so that they may focus on the failures and challenges there.

Unfortunately, it isn't at all unlike Murray Dobbin to be narrowly ideological. His Michael Byers-esque turn on Canadian Foreign Policy is really little more than another drop in the bucket.

The Rest of Canada? Where's That?

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 8:51 PM 0 comments
If one were to pay close attention to the ongoing federal election campaign, one would think the Conservative party is overwhelmingly carrying the day in terms of advertising.

They are carrying the day. But not as overwhelmingly as one might think -- at least, not if one were from English Canada.

In English Canada, the Conservatives have released 12 ads. The Liberal party has released one.

In Quebec, the story is entirely different. In fact, the Liberals have released numerous ads there that they have yet to release in the rest of the country.

The earlier batch of Quebec-only ads seem to emphasize Stephane Dion and "his team", as numerous Liberal party MPs and candidates wax eloquently on topics such as employment:



Poverty:



Arts and culture:



And "the word Canada":



In the second batch, the Liberal party tries to portray ordinary Quebecers offering their criticisms of Stephen Harper:



On great leadership:



And hope:



The ads feature the Liberal party sinking to some typical low points -- such as dropping George W Bush and Denis Coderre at least seeming to imply that Stephen Harper is "insane".

But the ads clearly show where Stephane Dion at least seems to think his bread his buttered: Quebec. The lack of any kind of comprehensive advertising Campaign in the rest of Canada is certainly nothing less than a glaring strategic blunder by the Liberals.

Considering their current third-place standing in Quebec (behind the Bloc and Tories, who are neck-and-neck), the Liberals may want to start paying some attention to the rest of Canada before it's too late.

That is, if they can even find it on a map. Right now, one wonders.

Orchard to Dion: Lighten Green Shift Lite

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 4:11 PM 0 comments
Saskatchewan star Liberal candidate proposes mid-campaign policy changes

As the 2008 federal election progresses, one can't really help but wonder if Stephane Dion is regretting not intervening (again) in the nomination process in Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River.

Even after lightening his vaunted Green Shift plan, Stephane Dion is being called upon by David Orchard (his candidate in Desenethe-Missinippi-Churchill River) to lighten it some more.

"I don't want to see farmers or fisherman or northerners penalized for using fuels for which there is no option, they have no alternative," Orchard pronounced.

Orchard insists that he has no shortage of confidence in Dion's leadership, despite his previous interference in Orchard's electoral ambitions. "I would have no trouble working for Stéphane Dion and I'm working hard to help him win power," he insists.

Calling upon Dion to once again change his policy -- this time in the middle of an election campaign -- probably isn't as helpful as Orchard would like to believe.

To help like this, Stephane Dion may need to say "thanks, but no thanks."

Free Trade Issues Enter the Counter-Branding Fray

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 12:45 PM 0 comments


In a new ad released yesterday, the Conservative party took advantage of a trade-related issue brought up by Stephane Dion.

Dion has suggested that the allgedly weak environmental policies of the Conservative government would imperil Canadian trade, as other countries impose punitive tariffs on countries judged to have taken insufficient action fighitng climate change.

"Other countries are considering slapping carbon tariffs on those who don't take action on climate change. As hard as it is to believe, for now, Canada is one of those countries," Dion recently said.

Dion's Green Shift plan promises to impose such "carbon tariffs" on other countries judged to be dragging their feet on climate change.

The ad itself seems to have been put together rather hastily. It features a different narrator than previous Conservative ads, and relies almost overwhelmingly on the analysis of a single expert -- Carlton University's Michael Hart. It features images of numerous Canadian trading partners being stamped with the word "tariff" as it progresses toward its logical conclusion: a map of the United States -- Canada's largest trading partner -- being stamped.

Perhaps it's inevitable that trade-related issues (in particular, Free Trade-related issues) were going to come up in the election campaign. In August, David Orchard, Canada's leading anti-free trader finally secured his opportunity to run for the Liberal party.

Perhaps it was only a matter of time before the Liberal party offered up some kind of Free Trade-related policy -- one that would inevitably require the abrogation of NAFTA -- in order to keep their newest star candidate in the fold.

Not so surprisingly, Dion's trade-related musings closely resemble musings by Barack Obama that he would try to renegotiate NAFTA in order to add environmental agreements. Considering Dion's poor performance on fighting climate change during his last go around, questions over whether or not Dion is, like Obama, merely bluffing remain lefitimate.

As such, the Conservative counter-branding effort in this case ironically tries to drive Dion closer to potentially unpopular policies of the man he would likely most like to emulate, even if Jack Layton is outdoing him on that particular front right now.

This subtext of the ad -- and reminders that many key details about Dion's Green Shift plan have been postponed in Campbellian fashion until after the election -- seem to be meant to work together to encourage voters to question Dion's genuinity and ponder the economic consequences of such a move.

The ad also represents a notable shift in the overall Conservative campaign -- moving away from tactics of ridicule and toward serious debate.

This particular ad is a bold move for the Conservative party. It will be interesting to see what kind of effect it has on the campaign.

Canadian Cynic: Canadians are Stupid

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 11:48 AM 0 comments
There's clearly something about Canadian Cynic and the word "stupid".

According to Cynic, the Blogging Tories are stupid, Christians are stupid, and anyone who dares stand up to him is stupid too.

In a post at the Sycophantic Groupthink Temple today, however, Cynic takes his little act an unsurprising step forward: Canadians are stupid.

Ironically, this assertion comes as Cynic is addressing a column by Christopher Flavelle in which he asked: darn it, how has Canada gotten so gosh-darn mean?

Certainly, the irony shouldn't be lost on anyone familiar with the distinctly un-Canadian dump that is (as he calls it) Cynic HQ. After all, if anyone in Canada has written the book on "mean", it certainly wasn't the Conservative party of Canada.

After all, there's something inherently mean about expressing amusement about an assassination attempt on a Canadian politician. Encouraging people to go after a political opponent through his children? To the point of stalking them to their school?

Not much more needs to be said about any of this. The irony of the individual who is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, Canada's meanest blogger essentially decrying the alleged meanness of Canadian society?

Most certainly lost upon himself (as these things tend to be), but not lost upon the rational observer.

In the end, it's unsurprising that Cynic considers Canadians to be stupid. After all, he certainly thinks his readers are stupid (it helps that they're all too often slavishly willing to oblige him).

After all, Cynic eagerly piled on the tasergate controversy. This would be fair enough if his inherently fascistic schaedenfreude hadn't already been run up the flagpole for the world to see.

For Cynic to expect to be able to fall in line with the progressive movement while they protested the injudicious use of tasers that has, sadly, been spreading across our country like wildfire while having made excuses for the injudicious use of tasers on a man who dared ask too many questions of the man who was once the favoured Presidential candidate of progressives?

This is a person who thinks Canadians are -- in fact, who clearly thinks everyone aside from himself is -- stupid.

And what was it that spurned him to finally just come out and say it? Likely polls that show the object of Cynic's simmering hatred to be headed toward a stronger minority government, if not a majority.

The very object of hatred that Cynic has spent the better part of his day for the past god-only-knows how long emptying both barrels at.

It seems that, once again, Candian Cynic is a good deal less influential than he's deluded himself into believing.

But at least he's finally mustered the courage to come out and tell Canadians what he really thinks of them. Now, if only he could muster the courage to attach his own name to those comments...


The Machinations of Left-Wing Reactionaries

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 3:21 PM 0 comments
Vote-swapping scheme shows left-wing extremists running scared

All over Canada, left-wing extremists are sweating bullets at the prospect of a Conservative majority government.

In an effort to try and head this off, Hamilton, Ontario's Mat Savelli has started an "Anti-Harper Vote Swap" group on Facebook, in which people in 41 battle ground ridings are encouraged to vote strategically to prevent a Conservative victory in that riding.

"Let's pretend I'm NDP supporter in the riding of Winnipeg South. Seeing as the Tories only managed to beat the Liberals by less than 150 votes in the 2006 election, the Liberals almost surely have the best chance of winning. I post on this group's wall 'NDP in Winnipeg South looking for Liberal swap' and agree to vote Liberal in exchange for someone else (i.e. a Liberal living in rural Alberta where the Tories are a lock to win) voting NDP in another riding. The group runs on an honour system in the belief that we are all united against Harper."
In theory, this is an idea that could work. However, there are a number of issues with it.

First off, some may recall that former Canadian AutoWorkers union President Buzz Hargrove had his NDP membership revoked for encouraging Canadians to vote strategically during the 2005/06 federal election. Any NDP members participating in the "Anti-Harper vote swap" will almost certainly be imperiling their party membership.

Secondly, at a mere 1,128 members -- including, uncharacteristically, Saskboy -- it's unlikely that the vote swap will make a significant difference unless its membership grows in the coming weeks.

Most of all, however, the "Anti-Harper vote swap" seems to overlook the inherent cynicism of its own exercise. The "Anti-Harper vote swap" encourages Canadians to vote against their personal allegiances and own interests in order to block another party. In other words, the people participating in the swap aren't voting for anything. Rather, they're simply voting against the Stephen Harper Conservatives.

As a political act, this is inherently pessimistic and cynical. A large question of trust remains: who's to say that a Liberal agreeing to vote for the NDP -- essentially in Savelli's place -- won't instead just go ahead and vote Liberal?

Perhaps for NDP supporters there is very little incentive for being dishonest. But with the Liberal party very much in contention to win the election, there is absolutely no doubt that there is an incentive for Liberal party supporters to secure a vote from an NDP supporter and then renege.

The perverse brilliance of such an act is that the individual getting burned would never know the difference.

The dis- and mistrust bred so easily in the heart of an individual cynical enough to engage in such an enterprise may, in the end, turn out to be enough to sink the entire enterprise. But whether or not the "Anti-Harper vote swap" is successful or not won't be known until election day.

Me, Too! Me, Too!

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 10:53 AM 0 comments
Green party admission to leaders' debates has brought Canada's other political crazies out of the woodworks

With Green party leader Elizabeth May set to participate in the televised leaders' debates -- despite her party having never elected a single, solitary MP -- many of Canada's other political crazies want a spot in the big show, too.

"The parties that are in the House are treating it like a private fiefdom, they're trying to pull up the drawbridge behind them and exclude other parties and new ideas," said Christian Heritage party leader Ron Gray.

"A democracy requires an informed electorate," he added. "To preempt the voter's decision by excluding one important voice is anti-democratic."

But in the 2005/06 federal election, only 28,152 voters voted for the anti-abortion, anti-gay social conservative Christian Heritage party. That's good for a 0.19% of the popular vote.

Is the Christian Heritage party really an "important voice"? Not bloody likely.

Marijuana party leader Blair Longley also thinks that, gosh-darn it, it's all just not fair.

"It's so unfair it goes off the scale," Longley sniffed. "We've been complaining forever and ever. Marijuana Party candidates are routinely excluded from debates, all over the place, all the time."

"If you're below the two-per-cent (threshold), you're nothing," Longley noted.

And for good reason, too. It's one thing for the debates to have to moderate a leaders' debate amongst four (now five) different leaders. Add a burnout douchebag who's probably stoned to the mix?

Not a pretty picture.

In the 2005/06 election 9,171 voters cast their ballot in favour of the Marijuana party. One presumes that a good deal of their constituency must have had an epiphany on election day: "if the only political issue I care about is the legalization of marijuana, I am clearly too fucking stupid to vote."

Of course, there is one fringe party in Canada that could actually make a somewhat legitimate claim to a spot in the leaders' debate: the Communist party, who elected Fred Rose in 1943, when the party ran candidates as the Labour Progressive party.

Unfortunately for the Communist party (and fortunately for the rest of us), however, the Communist party will still have to field candidates against the Marxist-Leninist party, splitting what is quite literally the pinko-commie vote.

Of course, neither party would stand a chance of electing an MP anywhere. There are three reasons for this: Communist. Marxist. Leninist.

Commanding a potential 10% of the popular vote, the Green party has certainly grown in status far beyond the meager dreams of these other fringe upstarts. But with the party finally claiming a place at the televised debate -- even with a leader acting as nothing more than a proxy for the Liberal party -- one has to wonder how long it may be before the network consortium relents and lets all these other crazies in, too.

Then again, Parliament (on a good day) already resembles an unruly kindergarten classroom. Why shouldn't the leaders' debate follow suit?

So Fucking What?

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 6:38 PM 0 comments
Ryan Sparrow screws the proverbial pooch, is shown actual door

"Goodbye, Ryan. Thank you for your time."

Those are the words that should have been uttered by Prime Minister Stephen Harper today, as he suspended Communications Director Ryan Sparrow.

Sparrow has been suspended for an email he sent to CTV following an appearance by Jim Davis, the father of fallen Corporal Paul Davis, following an appearance on Canada AM, in which he (rightfully) criticized Stephen Harper's promise to end the Canadian Forces engagement in Afghanistan in 2011.

Sparrow responded by emailing CTV and telling them that Davis is a Liberal party member who supported Michael Ignatieff during the 2006 Liberal leadership contest.

So the question on many people's minds is: so fucking what?

Not as in "Ryan Sparrow emailed CTV: so fucking what," but: "Jim Davis is a Liberal. So fucking what?"

Davis is entirely right to be concerned that his son's death not be in vain. Davis is entirely right to voice his opinion that, when Canada finally withdraws from Afghanistan, the mission there will have been accomplished. Jim Davis is entirely right to express his opinion.

And it isn't as if he had never confronted Liberals over their policies in Afghanistan. In July 2007, Davis encouraged Liberal leader Stephane Dion to support the extension of Canada's Afghanistan engagement.

Davis has been anything but partisan in his comment on Afghanistan. He has now taken both federal leaders on over their stance regarding the mission.

For Sparrow to try to suggest that Davis was acting as a partisan hack is nothing short of shameful -- especially considering that he himself was acting as nothing more than a partisan hack.

Sparrow's behaviour is not only embarassing for himself or his party. It's also embarassing for his country. Canadians expect better than this out of their politicians.

Davis, for his own part, has remained classy throughout this entire shameful affair. He's voiced his disagreement with Sparrow's suspension, noting that "we all learn from our mistakes and we become better people because of that. The last thing that I would want is somebody to have hardship over my son's death. That's not what this is all about, this is not politics."

Unfortunately, however, Sparrow didn't get that particular memo -- just as online hatemoger Canadian Cynic didn't get the message that it's unacceptable to attack the parents of war casualties for political purposes.

And he still hasn't gotten the memo. (But for those keeping track on Cynic's psychopathic delusions of personal destruction, one may want to take note of the effect such an attack can have on one's personal career -- just something for the hateful sociopath to mull over for a little while.)

Davis never wanted his son's death to be about politics. Unfortuantely, Ryan Sparrow tried to make it about politics and, as such, he should be making a much more permanent exit from his position with the Conservative party than merely a "suspension".

"Goodbye, Ryan. Thank you for your time."

Stephen Harper should be memorizing that.


Why Do We Fight?

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 3:00 PM 0 comments


September Tapes offers post-9/11 cautionary tale

In the post-9/11 world, many people have developed a fascinating interest in telling people "why we fight".

Many people treat it as a foregone conclusion: "We fight. This is why." Rarely is the matter even treated as a question.

2004's The September Tapes -- think of it as The Blair Witch Project meets Babel in wartime Afghanistan -- presents Don Larson (George Calil) as a documtary filmmaker in Afghanistan intent on witnessing the capture of Osama Bin Laden by American troops. His Afghan-American guide Wali Zarif (Wali Razaqi) leads Larson deeper and deeper into the dangerous world of Afghanistan's ethnic conflicts.

As he does so, Larson is drawn deeper and deeper into the conflict, eventually sacrificing his role as an observer and non-combatant for that of warrior, as he pursues the perpetrator of the 9/11 attacks with a fierce doggedness that quickly escalates into outright obsession.

As the movie progresses, it quickly becomes obvious that Larson has taken the events of 9/11 very personally. It turns out that he actually has ample cause -- something the viewer doesn't learn until the film's conclusion.

But the film offers a cautionary tale about 9/11 and about the war on terror that it has spawned.

The United States and its allies -- including and especially Canada -- cannot allow the war on terror to be about revenge. The United States and its allies cannot allow the war on terror to become about revenge.

It's impossible to argue that the response to 9/11 shouldn't be considered personal. The country attacked on that dark day certainly took the event personally. Frankly, it's hard to blame them.

As Frank Castle (Thomas Jane) notes in 2004's The Punisher, "revenge is not a valid motive. It's an emotional response." Any response to 9/11 based purely on emotion is one that is certain to fail.

Frank Castle is a character incapable of dealing with his own internal (emotional and psychological) problems in the wake of his family's murder. Instead, he focuses his efforts on the destruction of external enemies. When he finally manages to kill the man who ordered his family's murder, he takes to the road in search of other enemies to fight.

Likewise, Don Larson is a man seemingly incapable of dealing with his own (again, emotional and psychological) problems in the wake of 9/11. Instead, he focuses his efforts on witnessing American soldiers bringing the man who masterminded the attacks to justice. When it becomes apparent that this will not happen, he takes up arms and pursues Bin Laden on his own.

The loss of his allies along the way doesn't deter him. In the end, the conclusion of the film is a foregone conclusion. In fact, it's divulged at the start of the film -- Larson disappears, and his tapes are eventually recovered by American soldiers.

Don Larson the man has vanished. He may be dead, or he may be hunting Osama Bin Laden still.

As the world stops to commemorate the seventh anniversary of 9/11, one wonders about the ultimate fate of the country south of the 49th parallel. Has it learned how to deal with its own internal problems (psychological or emotional, or economic or political), or will it continue to hunt for enemies?

Will it focus on the very real enemies that exist -- terrorist organizations such as Al Qaida, the states that choose to harbour them and, ultimately, the conditions that breed them -- or will it again expand its crusade to threats that, if they even exist at all, are far from pressing? (One fears that talks about an eventual invasion of Iran are not as far-fetched as they may seem.)

The question is not if we will fight. The question is why. And, yes, it is a question.

As Canada and other countries continue to ally with the United States in the global war on terror, we must come to grips with the fact that the motives for which the United States fights will, in one way or another, impact upon us and be our motives as well.

We must continue to ensure that the United States is not fighting for revenge, but for the betterment of the world as a whole, and in the promotion of global security. If we witness the United States straying from this path again -- as it did when it chose to invade Iraq to confront non-existent weapons of mass destruction -- we must ensure that Canada does not follow them there.

That is why we fight. Not for revenge, as Don Larson eventually does, but for the betterment of all. For justice. For reason.

But never revenge.

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