May 30, 2006

Politics vs. Principle - a Response to Calgary Grit

Calgary Grit is a Liberal blogger for which I have a lot of respect. I also vowed never to post on Afghanistan again after I did 3 times a couple of weeks ago. But alas, here I go again.

Mr. Grit has written a pretty scathing review of Michael Ignatieff’s foreign policy, saying many Liberals disagree with Michael’s foreign policy. This is where I have to fundamentally disagree. Primarily, because Grit takes such a narrow view of what Michael’s foreign policy really is.

For his entire academic and journalistic career, Michael Ignatieff has been promoting interventionism. He is well known as a Liberal interventionist, saying we must intervene in societies where the state has failed to protect the basic human rights of its citizens. Nobody can really dispute that is his position, it’s everywhere in everything he rights. He has written it from a theoretical standpoint, a historiographical standpoint, and a direct journalistic standpoint throughout several essays and books.

How many Liberals agree with this viewpoint? Canada’s three last interventions were the result of failed states failing to protect the human rights of its citizens. All began under Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan are startling examples of states who failed to protect the fundamental rights of its citizens. We usually waited for a catalyst to intervene. Bosnia was at war with Croatia and Serbia. Afghanistan sponsored terrorists who flew 3 planes into American buildings. However, the common thread throughout these three missions is that Canada, along with the international community took a commitment to protect these persecuted people.

There is one civil conflict in that time period in which we did not intervene, Rwanda. The results are devastating. 800 000 people were slaughtered due to their ethnicity, a state where a couple of thousand troops could have prevented the massacre of thousands of innocent civilians. The international community sat on their hands and chose not to act until it was too late. General Romeo Dallaire was there and watched the insanity unfold before his eyes. One must also note that was in favor of Mr Harper’s resolution, because in his view, withdrawing support now would be akin to quitting when the going got tough.

Calgary Grit, that is why I disagree with what you have written about Afghanistan. You have said our troops may soon be needed in the Sudan, where Rwanda II is stewing. I agree. However, I do not believe we must turn the Afghans back to the Taliban to protect the Sudanese, but ratehr we must help those who have the manpower, particularly those in the African Union who has already stated they wish to intervene. I believe many Liberals would agree with Interventionist policy, because it is far from neo-conservative, in fact, it’s Wilsonian liberalism, adopted by other famous politicians including Bill Clinton, someone who many Liberals agree with in terms of foreign policy, including the Nobel Peace Prize Committee.

You advised your readers to play politics with the issue and vote against the resolution. You say “The majority of Canadians oppose the extension of the mission and you can't beat a government in power by taking the exact same position as them.” I believe they want someone who would make the right moral decision, not someone who would waffle on procedure a la John Kerry (I voted against it before I voted for it). Liberals want a leader with character, and one who would not blink in the face of adversity.

May 26, 2006

Kyoto is a City in Japan

Actual Conversation in my house…My mother is very pleased with the way Stevie the Harp has been doing things

Anthony: Ma, look at Harper, he cancelled Kyoto
Mom: what?
Anthony: Kyoto? That environmental agreement we signed in the early 90s to reduce the amount of pollution. We ratified it in 2003.
Mom: You mean that thing Jean Chretien signed to piss off Paul Martin because he was against it. (Touché)
Anthony: No that was C-24, the financing law. Chretien and Martin believed Kyoto was the right thing to do for the future.
Mom: Anthony, when you do things for the future, you don’t wait 10 years (she got me again)
Anthony: Ma this is the air we breathe.
Mom: Ya but Anthony who really cares about pollution. Harper cleaned Ottawa so much he can afford to dirty the air a bit. (If you are wondering where I get my wit, look no further, but she still is quite frustrating)
Anthony: Ma, it’s about the air me, you, and your grandchildren are gonna breathe if we don’t do anything about it.
Mom: (Scoffs) grandchildren?

Ya that was the end of the conversation for obvious reasons. After 13 years of inaction on climate change, Stephane Dion got the government’s act together, too little too late, most people who voted based on the environment vote NDP or Green. On Kyoto, the Liberal Party is the party of hot air. That has to change!

Michael Ignatieff is right to say that the environment as an issue was a liability to us last election. We are the party that did so little for so long. It drives the NDP nuts. We were too busy selling the fact we ratified Kyoto instead of telling Canadians what were getting into and telling them WHY it was so important. It all seemed like a deathbed repentance to me, and to Joe and Jane Canadian.

Renewal is all about being honest with yourself. The Liberal Party has to take a long look in the mirror. We have to tell Canadians why Kyoto is MORE than just a city in Japan.

Why Can’t Straight People Be Outraged?

The Blue Balls have made wittle Steewen paranoid? So two Mounties are getting hitched and we cant ask the homophobes for a comment?

Can you imagine what Stockwell Day would have said? “Gay Marriage is as impossible as evolution!”

Or Vic Toews? I can’t marry a gay man any more than I could put a hamburger in a hot dog bun. (Ok that one is Reverend Lovejoy, but still hilarious)

My favorite gay basher quote comes off the record from Myron Thompson, commenting on how he won with only 70% in the 2000 election. “It would have been more if it weren’t for the faggots and chinamen.” Stay classy Wild Rose!

So who comes out to crap on the muzzling from the different parties? The resident homosexuals Libby Davies and Scott Brison. I mean, they have the right, and I guess the obligation to call this what it is, stupidity! But what grinds my gears is that we had 80 or more MPs (including Joe Volpe!) who voted for SSM and the only one who comes out to defend the two Mounties getting married is the one who happens to be gay. I expected more people to come to the defense of the rights of these two Canadians.

If I knock the activists for asking the gay politicians be more proud, I think it is only fair the straight ones who believe in gay rights remind Canadians how they feel when other parties are muzzling their members. Be Proud!

May 25, 2006

Political Blue Balls

Stephen Harper is running around town saying nobody loves him. Well, Stephen, you aint getting any love from Fuddle Duddle either. Why is it that nobody loves Stephen Harper?

Harper’s Tories got endorsed by every major newspaper, including the Globe for the second straight time, the Post, the Gazette, and even La Presse, Quebec’s federalist newspaper. There was no shortage of Conservative Political Masturbation, it was what I imagine the eighth circle of hell would look like. (If y’all are wondering, the eighth circle is reserved for among others, panderers and hypocrites) The CBC was ok to both sides while the CTV and Mike Fluffy and Robert Fief got their reward with a Bush interview weeks after the election.

Now Harper is mad. 2 months ago, he was the new boss in town. Everybody loved him. He was getting some from everywhere, Alberta, BC, Quebec, even Dalton wanted to meet him. He was telling the press to go sit on his middle finger and they didn’t seem to mind…at first.

Oh my how times have changed. After 3 months in office, Harper couldn’t get any no more. Gordo said nuh-uh because of Kelowna. Ralph Klein wants out of equalization. Dalton got “snubbed.” Even Jean Charest, always dependable for a booty call wasn’t putting out over Kyoto and the Gun Registry. Now the media doesn’t wanna hear Harper anymore. Cry me a river Stephen…better, ask Paul Martin how the media stopped fawning the day he became Prime Minister, welcome to 24 Sussex. So take your message directly to the people. Once they hear your lies in person, even they will stop putting out, and those blue balls will be on the first bus back to Stornoway.

Awwww...wittle baby Hawper unhappy

Stephen Harper is accusing the media of being biased against him.

Now despite the fact that the only thing more disturbing to me than Mr. Harper as our Prime Minister is this episode of Little House on the Prairie I once watched as a girl where the family went away for the weekend while the mom stayed home and accidentally cut her leg on a barbed wire, a cut which later became infected with gangrene or some terrible bacterial infection that threatened to spread to her entire body, which meant all alone in the family cabin she had to cut off a giant chunk of her leg using nothing but a DULL KITCHEN KNIFE AND SOME TOPICAL ANTISEPTIC.... I still decided to consider Harper's concern.

I suppose it's true in that when the Conservatives cut the Aboriginal Accord, the media chose to focus mostly on the impact to Aboriginal communities rather than every Joe and Jane off-reserve taxpayer who instead got a cheaper bus pass.

And I suppose it's true that when they Conservatives decided to kibosh Kyoto, they did focus an awful lot of coverage on the reaction of other world leaders who were disappointed and upset that so many years of work went down the drain rather than the giddiness of domestic oil execs.

And to be fair to Mr. Harper, it's also true that when he cut press conferences after cabinet meetings, ended reporters' ability to ask questions freely at press conferences without previous pre-approval, and axed any non-PMO-approved ministerial media comments, sure, the media did spend a lot of time focusing on the ironic lack of transparency and accountability.

But at the end of the day, I think Harper might just be a a big whiny baby. News is news, and Mr. Harper can't change that. The press reports on government screwups and infringements on their right to access information. And we should all be thankful to them for it. A critical press (along with tetanus shots) is what makes this country great.

May 23, 2006

What are the Tories Afraid Of?

Given David Frum’s sortie this morning in favor of Michael Ignatieff is rather perplexing if not outright hilarious. Frum’s intentions are pretty clear. Why are Conservative’s running around praising someone they might have to run against? Maybe they don’t wanna run against him!

Harper’s handshake threatened to rock the Liberal Leadership race as Ignatieff was being slammed as right-wing as Republicans and even compared to 15th Century murderous vampires (thanks Shoshanna)

And now this from a Bush Spin Doctor Ignatieff, by contrast, showed the flexibility and cunning of the true professional. Frum knows exactly what he is doing. After all, this is the man behind “I’m a uniter, not a divider

All I know is that if Michael does win, come next election, we will make sure Frummy’s quote is said every time he goes on Mike Duffy. With Harper, everything is about partisan, petty politics. Ignatieff, by contrast, showed the flexibility and cunning of the true professional.

UPDATE: Now Tim Powers is quoting Michael Ignatieff saying (oh my) that the Liberals never really told the population what Kyoto really was. Michael wants us to act. Stephen Harper wants us to dilute our gasoline. Great Vision Tim!

May 22, 2006

Montenegrin Example to Set the Bar

There you have it, another secession referendum, another margin by the skin of its teeth. The YES side in the Montenegro referendum won by 11 points, barely giving them the mandate to separate, according to the EU brokered agreement from 2003, the threshold to separate was 55%.

The separatist movement in Quebec should take a few pointers from the Montenegrins. In fact, the EU has already take a few pointers from Canada. Stephane Dion’s Clarity Act, apparently originally Harper’s idea as a Reform MP (let’s see how the polls in Quebec turn when they find THAT out), was not only an inspiration for the Montenegrin example but also a test run at the system.

Clear Question

"Do you want the Republic of Montenegro to be an independent state with full international and legal subjectivity?"

not 128 words but surprising clear, Clarity 1 Separatists 0

Clear Majority

The EU set a barrier of 55% minimum to proceed to secession.

So the country would not break up if somebody forgot their glasses at home. (I love Jean Chretien) Clarity 2 Separatists 0

Clear Definition of the Mandate

If the results were in the “grey zone” of 50-55% it would be a mandate to continue to push for secession. If not, Montenegrins can move on.

Oh a light at the end of the tunnel, this is new, Pelletier must be going nuts. The PLQ must sometimes learn that good politics is not always necessarily good policy. Heck, so does the PLC.

This one was not an original Clarity Act idea so, let’s amend it. If they don’t reach 50% next time, they have to stop trying and let us wake up from our nightmare of a neverending referendum cycle.

Clarity 3 Separatists 0

Clear Prior Decision of Rules

The EU brokered the deal between the Serbs and Montenegrins prior to the referendum. This is reminiscent of Bouchard saying that he would not respect the Canadian Supreme Court. Well, sovereigntists should respect a court, so I suggest deferring to the ICJ, a Canadian-created institution supported by the rest of the world but that has no teeth. By deferring and ultimately abiding by the outcome, there can be no squabbling after. And Canada would be lending some much-needed legitimacy to the court.

No more referendums by the seats of our pants!

Clarity 4 Separatists 0

Where I’m from we call that a sweep!

The relatively civil tone of this referendum should serve as an example that if the Quebec nation seeks independence, they should achieve it without smoke and mirrors and accept the outcome of the vote. By the way, that goes for us federalists too!

Stephen Harper should hail this referendum as a bright light and success of the Clarity Act, even if he takes credit for the idea.

Jean Charest and Benoit Pelletier should see that if prior rules are set out before a referendum and no dirty tricks are allowed on either side, that we must accept the outcome, no matter how painful it is for the losing side. Who cares if it pisses off the separatists? This is common sense!

The Liberal Party should stand with their Conservative colleagues on this issue. After all, it might be unpopular, but it is the right thing to do. Besides, we did come up with the idea in the first place, voting against it now would be, well…no comment.

May 20, 2006

Cette semaine à Ottawa !

Laurent Soumis, chef de bureau du Journal de Montréal à Ottawa, a publié, ce matin, un article qui décrit bien la dernière semaine dans la capitale nationale. J'ai donc décidé de le republier en entier.

OTTAWA - La réputation internationale du Canada en a pris pour son rhume cette semaine. Mise à part la visite du premier ministre australien, le gouvernement conservateur a sacrifié l'image du pays pour privilégier ses intérêts partisans. Sur toute la ligne.

La ministre de la Francophonie, Josée Verner, se moquait cette semaine des bloquistes qui se souciaient de l'image du Canada à l'étranger.

N'en déplaise à madame, tous les Québécois, souverainistes comme fédéralistes, sont encore Canadiens. Et ils ont plus d'une raison de s'inquiéter de la légèreté avec laquelle son gouvernement prend les choses.

Ainsi, la semaine a fort mal débuté, au lendemain de l'incident Abdou Diouf, le secrétaire général de la francophonie soumis à la fouille à l'aéroport de Toronto, en dépit de son passeport diplomatique.

Plutôt que de présenter ses plus plates excuses, le gouvernement s'est obstiné à sauver la face, quitte à froisser le Sénégal, dont M. Diouf est l'ancien président.

A-t-on oublié que ce pays est le meilleur allié du Canada dans la francophonie, l'un de ses plus sûrs amis en Afrique?

Personne ne veut bien sûr le dire. Mais si M. Diouf n'avait pas été nègre -dans le sens noble du terme-, il n'aurait probablement pas eu droit à cet accueil discourtois.

C'est pour cette raison que le Sénégal soutient que cet affront est une insulte pour tous ses compatriotes africains. Et que d'autres leaders africains y voient la manifestation d'un certain racisme latent.

Pas d'alternative

La ministre de l'Environnement Rona Ambrose n'a guère fait mieux que sa collègue, à la Conférence de Bonn sur les changements climatiques.

En annonçant l'abandon des objectifs du Protocole de Kyoto, sans pour autant présenter d'alternative, le Canada ne s'est pas qu'attiré la condamnation des groupes environnementalistes internationaux.

Des pays comme l'Allemagne -partenaire commercial privilégié du Québec en Europe- ont publiquement désavoué le défaitisme canadien.

Dans ce dossier, le gouvernement Harper a tout bonnement ignoré l'avis de son ministère des Affaires étrangères qui le prévenait à l'avance de la perte de crédibilité du Canada sur la scène internationale.

Pas un meilleur exemple

Le premier ministre n'a pas donné un meilleur exemple avec Gwyn Morgan, ce petroman de Calgary que Stephen Harper aurait voulu placer à la tête de sa nouvelle Commission des nominations publiques.

Personne au bureau de M. Harper ne semblait avoir prévu que l'opposition passerait à la loupe les déclarations passées de M. Morgan.

Car ce n'est pas particulièrement amical envers la Jamaïque, l'Inde ou la Chine que d'appeler publiquement à la méfiance envers tous leurs ressortissants, présumément contaminés par la violence et le crime.

M. Harper aura beau courtiser toutes les minorités ethniques de Toronto, il a donné une bien vilaine image aux Néo-Canadiens en soutenant la candidature de quelqu'un qui tient de tels propos.

Dans ses fonctions, faut-il rappeler, M. Morgan aurait été appelé à choisir la crème de la crème de la fonction publique. Ce n'est pas exactement le bon candidat à montrer aux communautés ethniques dont on veut, par ailleurs, accroître la présence dans l'appareil fédéral.

Vote forcé

Enfin, comme si ce n'était pas assez, l'entêtement du premier ministre à forcer un vote sur la présence militaire en Afghanistan aura finalement coûté cher au Canada.

Peut-on vraiment crier victoire lorsqu'on signale à tous nos alliés que notre engagement tient seulement à quatre voix ?

Les talibans, eux, auront vite fait d'interpréter que quelques cadavres de plus viendront un jour à bout de la présence canadienne.

Et à Kandahar, il ne se trouvera guère de soldats pour se réconforter d'un si faible soutien.

On dit souvent que l'orgueil est un bien mauvais conseiller, en politique comme dans la vie.

Pour l'heure, force est de constater que la diplomatie, l'humilité et le sens de l'État sont des qualités qui n'ont guère la cote au bureau du premier ministre.

Bonne journée,


May 19, 2006

On Appelle ça du Leadership

Si le Parti libéral veut remonter la pente au Quebec, on a besoin d’un chef de parti qui aura le courage de ses convictions et qui prendra la bonne décision, même si les sondages lui indiquent le contraire. Michael Ignatieff a démontré ce leadership mercredi soir et a fait preuve de ce courage. Ses adveraires peuvent jouer des jeux politiques avec la mission en Afghanistan, mais quand vient le temps de trancher, les Canadiens veulent un Premier ministre qui ne laissera pas les sondages dicter ses positions.

Afghan Vote was Symbolic

“Do not blink in the face of adversity” Romeo Dallaire’s words ring true. Liberals could complain all they want over the procedure but I may remind them for 13 years they sat on the other side playing tricks on the Alliance/Reform/Conservatives. I think we shut down debate over 100 times in 11 years...

The vote was about doing what was right. Everyone is well aware of the stakes that are at play in Afghanistan. Did 10 months of debate change anything in Holland? We had a debate on Afghanistan previously in the House. The Liberals debated the resolution in caucus for 6 hours, plus the 6 hours in the House. They had time to ask questions of Harper, MacKay, Verner, and the other Conservative Ministers who stood to defend the mission. By not giving them time, the Conservatives exposed the Liberal Caucus for what they will portray as weak. Tories stood and took questions. They defended their record and coincidentally, our record as well.

The Liberals are used to having all the time in the world to set the agenda. Well, sorry guys, but Stephen Harper is the dealer now. And he said show your cards. Hamid Karzai was watching, our armed forces were watching. Who would not blink in the face of adversity? Who would do the right thing without the time to spin their opinion first? 124 Tories 24 Liberals and André Arthur did the right thing. Thank You!

May 18, 2006

Mission Accomplished Harper Divides Liberal Party

Tonight, Harper has succeeded in throwing a bomb into the Liberal Party…and we are about to see if it explodes

Votes FOR 149
Votes Against 145

30 Liberals voted in favor of the resolution, allowing it to pass. I was in favor of the resolution. This was a clear booby-trap set up by Harper. Now, 3 parties out of 4 voted against the mission in Afghanistan.

Oh, but Antonio, if they had given us more time to debate and a better picture of what was going on, we would have been in favor. WHAT?

Are some people seriously telling me, they are in favor of helping the Afghan people restore civil society contingent on the fact that we want to discuss this in a committee?

Some people are reading polls. Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe showed a complete lack of leadership by reading polls saying Canadians wanted to hear more about the mission, so they were withdrawing support for it. “We support the mission to Afghanistan but we just voted against it.” We will see how the voters react to that.

Canada’s word used to mean something in the world. It meant something because when we made a commitment we kept it. How can we rail on Harper for reneging on Kyoto and at the same time vote against an international mission we have already committed to?

Michael Ignatieff, Bill Graham, Scott Brison, and the 21 other MPs showed some political principle last night. For Michael Ignatieff, a vote against last night would have been a vote against his entire academic career. Afghanistan’s own history is a textbook case of what happens when the international community cuts and runs from a commitment.

If you aren’t ready to stick it out til the end, don’t go in the first place. The Taliban was armed by the CIA in the 1980s during the Cold War. By leaving once the shooting starts, the message we send to the Afghans is “we will stay as long as its politically viable.” That’s the message we sent the Shia and the Kurds in 1991, and the mass graves are only being unearthed today.

The next time 60 Liberal MPs vote to inflict a society worse than all nightmares can imagine on 31 million people we pledged to help, they should ask themselves what is the right thing to do.

The Liberals must support being in Afghanistan to help the people they made a promise to. MPs get elected to keep promises to their constituents. To Jack Layton, Gilles Duceppe and 60 Liberal MPs, if your problem is how we are handling the mission down there, you all have opposition motions, they are all binding as the one last night. (as in not binding) I’m more than certain you would have 24 extra Liberal MPs right behind you as well. Beat Harper at his own game but please, know that above all, it is our duty to be there and keep our promises.

MPs who Voted Yea

Bagnell (Yukon)
Brison (NS)
Cullen (ON)
Cuzner (NS)
Easter (PEI)
Eyking (NS)
Folco (QC)
Graham (ON)
Guarnieri (ON)
Ignatieff (ON)
Lee (ON)
Maloney (ON)
McGuire (PEI)
McKay (ON)
Peterson (ON)
Redman (ON)
Regan (NS)
Rota (ON)
Savage (NS)
Simms (NL)
Thibault (NS)
Tonks (ON)
Wappel (ON)
Zed (NB)

May 15, 2006

I didn't say it...

"If you're unable to win a debate in French, how can you win an election,"

-Stéphane Dion in Vancouver last week

Everyone knows MY opinion on the issue, however, this is the first leadership candidate to say so...interesting indeed

May 14, 2006

Defending Each Others’ Rights is Everyone’s Duty

Shame on the gay activists who have told André Boisclair that he should better defend the rights of gay people just because he is gay!

It is this closed minded attitude that pisses me off about some gay activists. I mean, why is it that only gays should stand up and defend the rights of gays? It’s absolutely ludicrous.

I always defend the rights of women. I do so because I believe in equality.

I always defend the rights of ethnic minorities. I do so because I believe in equality.

I always defend the rights of gays and lesbians. I do so because I believe in equality.

Everyone should stand up and defend the rights of everybody else. Although society itself is turning into one of individual rights, what binds us all together is that we will all stand up and defend the rights of everybody else, of each other. That is the responsibility that comes with all the rights we have been given.

May 12, 2006

Endorsement: Another self-proclaimed 'Dionista'

After what can only be described as a long period of indecisiveness caused by overexposure to first class, highly qualified leadership candidates, I have finally made up my mind as to who I will support in the Liberal Leadership.

To explain a titch of my indecisiveness, I present to you an unnecessarily lengthy diatribe of the thoughts swirling through my head in the days, weeks, and (er) months, leading up to my decision. I call it UNTITLED (Portrait of Internal Leadership Pathos).

BRISON I just straight up like him. He’s sweet, smart, and hilarious. One of the funniest candidates of the bunch, he’s had me in stitches more times than I can count, and I like him personally. We also share a mutual adoration of tax reform and a few other policy issues; however, at the end of the day, I looked at my two main contemporary concerns with our party, and I realized that- through no true fault of his own- he lacked the ability to solve these problems.

RAE I also adore. Rae has it. In spades. I don’t know what ‘it’ is, exactly but I damn well know he’s got it. Have you heard him speak? Have you seen him interact with others? Have you read his writings? There’s no question that amongst seasoned professional politicos watching and participating in this race, Rae is flawless in every respect, from communication to policy to bilingualism. The people on Rae’s team are inclusive, talented, and deadly convincing. Moreover, I firmly believe their competitor’s rhetoric, “Rae days will kill his chances in Ontario,” is nothing but bullshit. Maybe I just give the voter too much credit but I think the recession and the unexpected nature of the win can go a long way toward exonerating a brilliant politician.

Not to mention that Rae had the most gender-equitable cabinet in North American municipal/provincial/federal history. Amongst equality activists, he will rightly go down as the one politician who didn’t just walk to walk, but talked the talk, and for that I can’t help but feel somewhat guilty about not supporting such a track record.

Unfortunately, again when I looked at my two main concerns about our party factoring into my decision, I realized that Rae possesses the ability to solve one but lacks the ability to solve the other.

And then there is DRYDEN. A man of intense principle, intense dedication, and intense intensity, there is no question that he would make a good party leader in many senses.

Another large attraction to Dryden is his team. They all share Dryden’s honesty, intelligence, and kindness. People always ask me why the magazines I read are addressed to Ken Dryden, and it’s because his office sends me their week-old copies of Time and Macleans because I’m too poor to afford subscriptions! He and his staff are just that nice. They’re also extremely honest. When wooing supporters they’re direct, blunt, and make no promises nor pull any punches.

Of course, returning again to my two main problems with our party, I again think Dryden might be good at solving one, but definitely not effective at solving both.

So what are my two main concerns you ask?

Firstly, I worry about the health of the party in Quebec electorally. I worry that not only are we losing soft federalists votes via a system of appeasement as promoted by Stephen Harper’s UNESCO or fiscal imbalance politics, but that those soft federalists are then turning into soft separatists. I worry that our poor electoral performance is the beginning of a cycle whereby fewer elected representatives makes us less capable as a party of understanding or representing the province, which then makes us less electible.

Secondly, I worry about the health of the party in Quebec internally. Declining interest, participation, inclusion, and integrity are leading to an upsetting “all work and no play” atmosphere. With the recent arrival of the Conservatives as a political force in Quebec, there is fear and concern where there should be motivation and excitement. Instead of feeling threatened and psychologically ill-prepared to do battle with two parties, this should be seen as an opportunity, a chance to highlight what makes us great and what sets us apart from all other parties. The Liberal Party is not the de-facto choice for Quebec federalists, it is the right choice for Quebeckers and communicating this is not a burden, my chers militants, but a challenge.

Linked, but distinct, a party struggling both electorally and internally can never be a cohesive and healthy organization. And to move toward this, I firmly believe we need solid commitment and will from the grassroots as well as strong leadership from the top.

And this, my friends, is why I am endorsing Stéphane Dion for leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Yes, he’s solid in terms of policy- Canada’s role on the international stage, a vibrant economy that is also sustainable, and a commitment to social justice- and he speaks to these issues with a genuineness and conviction not often exhibited in most politicians. But while I don’t mean to downplay his brilliance in any of these realms, we as a party need a leader with even more.

We need someone who understands the country’s separatist sentiments (whether they be Quebec, Alberta, or Newfoundland), and the dynamics at play in the party.

He has been a dedicated member of our caucus for a long time, taking on the tough portfolios, writing the difficult legislation, and all the while being a dedicated member of our party, engaging with the grassroots and actively participating at events and within the policy process.

He’s not a conventional politician in many senses, but to me, that’s one of his greatest attributes. Yes he’s got the ideas, vision, and passion necessary, as well as the rare ability to fully communicate those eloquently and convincingly in both official languages. But most importantly, he’s also got the background and the proven party track record.

He’s always stood up for us as Liberals- at times against the most vicious of criticisms and open hostility from the opposition- and I am proud to now stand up for him.

May 11, 2006

The Nightmare From Which the Liberals Are Trying To Awake

So Frank Luntz tells the Conservatives they must keep attacking the Liberals in order to get a majority. I would agree with Mr. Luntz, harping on a negative is an effective tactic.

However, attacking other parties with government money is a little much. What did we have the Gomery Commission for anyway? The justice went through every record there was, the same records which the government would use to sue the Liberals. He determined the Liberals owed 1.14 million dollars to the federal government. The Liberal Party cut a check the very same day. Could the party have done any more than that given the circumstances?

Liberals have moved on. The Gomery Commission, by airing out the entire affair, and allowing Liberals to come to terms with it, made us able to treat it as the past. It was a difficult process for Canadians but more difficult for Liberals, the vast majority of which, contrary to popular belief, are not thieves and are not corrupt. The nightmare is over, we have awoken. By seeing it as the past, Liberals are able to move on. The Gomery Commission is to thank for that.

This is a change in position for me. From a political standpoint, the Gomery Commission was suicide, but after it’s over, I realize that reading the judge’s report allowed me to believe that all the crap has been aired out and this is behind us. Knowing the truth about what happened was essential for me to get over the disappointment and want to participate all the more in the renewal process. The truth hurts, but it also sets you free.

Mr. Harper is simply rubbing salt in the wound, which, of course, he is fully entitled to do. However, he is doing it on the taxpayers’ dime, when forensic accountants have already done the work. Is there anything else new that could come up in the civil trial that an independent inquiry has not already found? This will cost the government millions of dollars in legal fees. It might as well be a Conservative attack ad. Canadians have punished the Liberals for what they have done. They did not elect a government who would waste more money trying to win a majority government.

May 10, 2006

Priority #6 Attack the Opposition?

With nobody attacking each other in the Liberal Leadership Race, it seems the Tories have decided to get involved in throwing crap across the aisle.

With a multi-ballot vote in December eminent, the Liberals have all remained civil with each other. Mike Fluffy and co. in the press corps are looking for blood, taking anything from anywhere to constitute an attack.

Today, Conservative Dave Batters took to attacking Michael Ignatieff in an SO 31. Monday, Michael asked a question regarding the measly addition to spending on research and development. The Liberals led the G8 in research spending, the Tories apparently wanted to create prison spaces.

Batters attacked the Liberal record from 1995, despite the fact that the Liberals rectified that situation by 2000. But Batters also took to attacking the fact that Michael would have known the situation better if he had been in Canada at the time.

I never remember Tory members attacking other members’ SO 31s. I must have watched 100 QPs when I was in the house, and I don’t remember it ever being necessary for the government to attack opposition members in the fifth row no less!

Either the Tories have nothing better to do, or they fear the return to power of the Liberals under any of our leadership candidates. It is clear the only ones throwing mud into this leadership race will come from people who aren’t Liberals but people whose sole goal it is to bring this party down.

The Tories want the race to turn negative and to turn bloody. Mike Fluffy and the press corps would also like to see some blood. Too bad guys, you’ll be disappointed…this is a debate of ideas!

May 8, 2006

Kool-Aid Moment of the Week

Jean Charest was “touched at the reception he got from Orford”. Despite polls suggesting only 18% of the population support selling the park to one of Charest’s friends, 95% of PLQ members supported the bill in a vote held last Saturday.

I wander if Stalin was touched by the 30 minute standing ovations he used to receive after every speech. Hopefully, David Whissell will not throw out the first person who stopped clapping.

Maybe this province needs Bouchard back just to restore sanity…

May 6, 2006

M. Charest, vous êtes mauvais, très mauvais !

Le Premier Ministre Jean Charest démontre, jour après jour, qu'il est d'une médiocrité sans égal. J'ai été surpris de voir le peu de courage que les militants libéraux provinciaux ont pu avoir lors de leur conseil général qui a lieu cette fin de semaine.

Ils ont été "fortement encouragés" à appuyer le Premier Ministre Charest et son "Yes Man" responsable de l'Environnement, Claude Béchard dans un effort d'enrichir des amis de M. Charest en leur vendant un parc national. Nul autre que Claude Boulay, oui oui une star de la commission Gomery, était jusqu'à tout récemment derrière le projet d'Orford. Il faut que se rappeler que ce sont les gens d'Everest qui ont mis Jean Charest sur la carte.

La femme d'un des fondateurs d'Everest, Claude Lacroix, est nulle autre que Suzanne Poulin, l'adjointe de toujours de Jean Charest. Son 40e anniversaire, c'est chez Everest que Jean Charest l'a célébré. Ce sont toujours les gens d'Everest qui ont géré les campagnes de Charest dans Sherbrooke. Michel Guitard, l'actuel directeur des communications du Cabinet du Premier Ministre, est également issu de la filière Everest...

La vente d'Orford était un simple tour de passe-passe qui aurait servi à aider des amis de M. Charest. C'est devenu une crise majeure pour le gouvernement. Jean Charest aurait dû faire comme il l'a fait avec les écoles juives et battre en retrait en disant à ses copains qu'il trouverait un autre moyen de leur dire merci pour leurs loyaux services.

Faisant preuve de bien peu de jugement politique et d'un entêtement hors du commun, Jean Charest en a fait une question de confiance. Il s'est dit : "Si je coule, vous coulerez avec moi.". Cette attitude est complètement ridicule.

Le Parti Libéral du Québec a paru encore plus déconnecté en votant presque unaniment en faveur du projet d'Orford. Les militants ont perdu la face pour que Jean Charest n'ait pas à reculer sur ce dossier.

Aux dernières nouvelles, le président du caucus du PLQ songeait à expulser les deux dissidents que sont Thomas Mulcair et Pierre Paradis. Ces deux hommes militent pour le PLQ depuis bien plus longtemps que Jean Charest et sa bande d'amateurs.

Dans un avenir prochain, je vous expliquerai comment Charest aurait pu faire de la vente d'Orford un projet porteur pour la région. Il aurait pu être réclamé par les gens de la région. Mais non, Jean Charest refuse obstinément de consulter la population...

Je souhaite le départ de Jean Charest, pour le bien du Parti Libéral du Québec et de la cause fédéraliste.

Alex Plante

Jean Charest Est Prêt à Démissioner

LiveBlogging In Exile from the PLQ General Council .

I am in exile because the PLQ refused all student media any accreditation because quote “Some Student journalists have caused trouble in the past”

So much for freedom of the press, anyway…the Orford resolution will be allowed to be debated. The Youth Wing is whipping their vote as usual (we would never get away with this at the PLC) and they are telling their members to allow the debate, but to oppose the resolution. Here is to hoping that the young PLQuistes will vote with their consciences.

41% of people who voted for the PLQ last time want Jean Charest to leave. When 40% of the party wants you gone, it's not good. 65% of Quebeckers want Charest to resign his job. About 200 protesters have met the PLQ with signs as they protest the vastly unpopular Charest government.

However, all the buzz is about the poll this morning that 41% of Quebeckers would vote for a Quebec Conservative Party with Lucien Bouchard at the helm. That’s higher than the 36% the PQ got in the last poll and well above the 29% the PLQ received.

Although it would mean a likely loss for the PLQ next election, I hope Bouchard talks with Dumont and forms the merged party. We would finally get rid of the Conservatives tainting the PLQ and can fight with our Liberal values again. I say Charest would have to join the new party too. He can take Yves Seguin and Benoit Pelletier with him. Now we can fight on values.

Thomas Mulclair, the environment minister who was fired for opposing Orford, spoke against the “resolution cadre” or main resolution, saying it went against the spirit of a resolution the National Assembly passed unanimously, you think the PLQ policy guys would write policy in conjunction with things they have passed as the government…oops. The resolution was amended after Thom’s intervention.

More Updates to follow: the Orford resolution in particular.

Antonio Di Domizio
Journalist in Exile

May 5, 2006

NDP Strikes back at Calgary Grit

Chris responds...he is the NDP version of usual Brad Lavigne fashion, it's the Liberals' fault. A valiant effort Chris but just because it took us 13 years to implement Kyoto and implement Child Care, doesnt mean you trade it all for 10 seats.

NDP 2007 slogan:

Working for You until we get we want, then we kill it and bitch that you dont have it again.

Enough editorializing, here is Chris' Response:

We will hunt down, and punish, those responsible...

I had plans for tonight : study hard, derivate the eleasticity of price curves, calculate vectorial matrixes. A fun night, in other words. But, like a friend entering your home with a 40 oz of tequila and a broken heart the day before the finals, Antonio dedicated me this post, initially by Calgary Grit. And as I just became an internet celebrity important enough to have dedicated posts (Caution, Jason Cherniak, I'm coming!), and that, as Uncle Ben said (too) often in the first Spiderman, "With great powers comes great responsabilities", I rolled up my sleeves, spat in my hands and started to work. Quick answer from an improvised war room, my room.

So, only a hundred days after their humiliating and stunning electoral defeat, Liberals found a new national sport : NDP-bashing. Whatever the facts, their horrible record, their arrogance or their corruption, Liberals lost because we, evil dippers, we made their government fell, and we stole them voters. Which makes us responsibles for the application of the conservative agenda.

Damn, I should have thought of that before. But...I) If we consider the question, just thirty seconds, the six actions of the conservative government in the original text that are mentionned are :
A) Kyoto's brutal murder
B) Loss of the national childcare program
C) Nothing for EI or training
D) No funds for post-secondary education
E) Military integration with the US
F) Tax cuts for large entreprises.Geez.

A heavy burden. But it kind of reminds me of something... Oh yeah, I have it : the government which, in thirteen years in power, never had a concrete and realistic program for Kyoto, never found the time to implement a childcare program except at the very end, when the beans were already boiled, never transferred the 4.3 billions of post-secondary education and cut at several times large enterprises taxes. In other words, the change is not that drastical. Anyone remember the leadership campaign of Paul Martin, M. Americans-will-love-me-and-oh-what-a-great-idea-a-missile-shield ? I do.

II) If we look a little closer, let's say one minute, we didn't kick the liberals out of power. Electors did, after one of the worst campaigns in history (Thank you, Scott Reid!). And thirteen years of borken promises, too.And, most of all, Liberals kicked themselves out, in the end. Who's remembering last fall ? The NDP trying to negociate a deal, mainly on the public health-care system, Liberals rejecting it and therefore rejecting our support ? If they wanted to stay in power (and to protect health care, by the same way), they jsut had to negociate, to settle a deal. But it's so much easier blaming the orange guys, eh ?

III) If we think of it just a little longer, five minutes maximum, this whole story is just absurd. First, blaming the lack of results after three months of government is perfectly ridiculous - this government still has months, maybe years to live, and I am confident that our projects, like the anti-scabs law (by the way, you're still gonna vote against it, Liberals, ain't you ?) are going to be adopted by the House of Commons.

But, most of all : who's supporting the Conservatives ? Last time I heard, it's Yvon Loubier who was dancing hand in hand with Jim Flaherty, not Yvon Godin. So, why aren't the Liberals bashing the Bloc ? Why don't they ask everyone how a "progressive" party can support a budget abolishing Kyoto and childcare programs ? Why don't they bring on the floor the broken promise of the Bloc of never supporting a budget without changes to the Unemployment Insurance, a broken promise ? It is the Bloc who's supporting the Conservative governement, not the NDP. Don't shot the wrong guy.

And, most of all, don't sell the bear's fur before killing it (is it even an expression in english ?) : without a leadership race, we are going to be the strongest opposition to the Conservative government, believe me. And yes, we will get results for people.

May 4, 2006

Calgary Grit Posts Another Gem

Calgary Grit said it better than anybody else. Chris, this one is for you

Results for People

Remember last election? Remember how Jack Layton told everyone to "elect more NDP MPs"? Remember how he promised this would create "results for people"?

One hundred days in, let's take a look at the results Jack has generated. Since, as a Liberal, I might be somewhat partisan, I'll let a completely unbiased person judge the results for people achieved by this government. This completely unbiased person will be...Jack Layton.

Results for People

1. A "made in the Oil Patch" environmental program which has killed Kyoto and "abandoned the environment".

2. Nothing to create a National Child Care program.

3. "Nothing for EI, precious little for training." In short, Canadians have been given "a lost opportunity for working families".

4. A budget with "nothing for post-secondary education". This country will be full of "empty libraries because students won't be able to afford to use them".

5. An "arrogant and rigid" approach to Canada-US relations, leading to a "rather dramatic extension of military integration with the United States".

6. Massive corporate tax cuts; "an imprudent action that takes us closer to a deficit".

I'd say the Liberal TV ads meant to appeal to NDP voters next election are going to write themselves. Or, more precisely, Jack Layton is currently writing them.

And if he can't talk about "results for people" or name drop "Ed Broadbent" eight times a day, Jack's going to need a new pitch to keep the Liberal votes he "borrowed" last time.

May 3, 2006

Poor Paul Martin

Could Paul Martin ever have gotten away with...I'll deal with the problem next year while sitting on an 8 billion dollar surplus.

Charest would have torn him a new one. Same with Duceppe.

Harper says wait until next year and the budget is deemed spectacular by the buffoons.

I will concede...Paul Martin could have cured cancer and it would have still been time for the Liberals to go.

Let's Rebuild...Harper will give us two years...we will see what Canadians think when the day care program falls flat on its face and harper breaks his promises to Quebec. I have a hunch it will all happen. Maybe its wishful thinking, I know I will be ready either way.

Representing Quebec/ Duceppe Harpocrisy

One person agrees with the fact that Quebec gets nothing much in the Flaherty Budget, André Boisclair said «le Québec n'a rien obtenu de ce qu'il demandait» Liberals know that. Their 13 MPs will vote against it. However, the last budget which had all the priorities Boisclair and Quebeckers wanted, the Bloc voted against. Separatists sending mixed messages again.

Boisclair says NO to budget

Duceppe says YES

The party that will ALWAYS promote the interests of Quebeckers is the Liberal Party of Canada. No Surprise there. (And don't give me no shit about Sponsorship, those people are ON TRIAL) Next time, when it will be time to vote for a government that favors Quebec priorities, Quebeckers will have to vote for the Liberals.

However, the other 2 parties were jumping with joy over things Quebeckers groan about.

In 2003, I thought I voted for a party that wanted to promote Quebec’s success within Canada. Jean Charest supported a budget that killed Quebec-style child care across Canada.

In 2003, I voted for a party that believed in the Kyoto Protocol and that believed in environmental sustainability. Jean Charest just supported a budget that killed funding for the Kyoto Protocol.

In 2003, I voted for a party that believed we should spend money on promoting Canadian culture. Jean Charest just supported a budget that slashed funding for the arts and only spent a measly 20 million on the Canadian Council of the Arts.

In 2003, I voted for a party that eliminated a tax credit on bus and metro passes because the leader said it did nothing to stimulate more people on public transit. Jean Charest just supported a budget that spends 150 million dollars on reducing that tax.

In 2003, I voted for a leader whose finance minister said they needed 40 billion dollars over 8 years to solve a fiscal imbalance. When the federal government offered 45 billion over 10 years through a 1% cut in the GST, Jean Charest refused to take the money and solve his imbalance. Complaining is more important than solving the supposed imbalance.

61 Quebec MPs will vote for this budget…I guess there is only one party to defend the real interests of Quebeckers. As for Charest, keep driving those nails in your coffin…maybe we can have a Jean Charest cemetery in Orford National Park.

May 1, 2006

Bilingualism is a must

Saturday was the General Council of the LPC(Q) . We had the chance to meet with the different candidates and their teams. Even Paul Martin was there and he delivered a great speech. We had a great time and it was the first time in a very long time that we didn't see the old wars. Everybody was talking together.

My colleague, Antonio, mentioned at the beginning of this race that speaking both official languages is key to win the leadership of the LPC and the next general election. I completely agree with Antonio. Bilingualism IS A MUST. Now that all the serious candidates have declared, let's look who's bilingual and who's not.

I've had the chance to assess the ability to speak French of most candidates. Here are the results of this very scientific study that I have conducted over the week-end.

Stéphane Dion : A+++ Obviously speaks a very good French. It's his first language and he's a former university professor. He has a very rich vocabulary.

Bob Rae : A+ He masters the French language like few other Ontario politicians do. He is a francophile and his grammar is very good. His French is much better than Stephen Harper's.

Michael Ignatieff : A+ Speaks very good french. He is able to answer questions very easily. Very eloquent and his grammar is almost perfect. The quality of his French is above the language spoken by most Quebecers. His French is much better than Stephen Harper's.

Joe Volpe : B+ Volpe's French is surprising. He speaks very well and is able to make jokes. When you can master humor, you master the language. I spent 45 minutes on the phone with him. I asked him fairly complicated questions and he answered very well. His vocabulary is very rich.

Martha Hall-Findlay : B I spoke to her in French, she answered quickly even though she said that her French was "rusty". It's still very good.

Gerard Kennedy : C+ Gerard is a big disappointment. Everyone seemed to say that Gerard was fully bilingual because his wife was Acadian and his children spoke French at home. I guess they don't speak French with Gerard at home... His French is way below Harper's.

Scott Brison : C- Scott's French is much below Stephen Harper's. He's taking lessons but that should have been done when he ran for the PC leadership. He's doing a little bit better than Belinda. He is better than before but clearly there is room for improvement...

Ken Dryden : D Ken Dryden didn't speak French during the time he played for the Canadiens . I haven't heard that he was getting French lessons either. This is disappointing. Apart from that, he is a great guy and did very good work as Social Development Minister

Bonne soirée,


Quebec’s AGM

HOLY COW! Just got back from the Liberal bastion that is Drummondville (Think Medicine Hat!) from Quebec’s Annual General Meeting.

Yes the fresh meat that was the undecided Liberal was certainly under attack by all the candidates. As Senator Dawson pointed out, 200 to 250 people there this weekend will likely make up a third of the Quebec delegation in December. And yes, the candidates were there to pound the pavement.

I am not an undecided Liberal. I support “that dude from Harvard”. However, it was a chance for me to see some old friends and check out their candidates. My impressions of the event were that the party members got to see what the candidates were made of. I am happy with the results.

Michael was among the best performers Saturday. Answering French questions with ease, he spoke to the entire youth contingent and impressed them, answering the usual tough questions on Iraq, but also putting forward his vision of Quebec’s place within Canada, and even some PLQuistes left happy. Michael has successfully taken on those who criticized him with spin and attacks. It was evident in the room that his presence was turning heads. The buzz was certainly alive. Don’t believe me, ask others who were there. It was a great weekend for Mi.

The other candidate who really knocked my socks off this weekend was Stephane Dion. He showed us Quebec Liberals why we love him so much. Stephane is not the great centralizer many Canadians think he is. He was the biggest advocate of provincial rights in Jean Chretien’s government but took the bullet over the “heavy-handed” Clarity Act and his reputation was ruined by 3 years of pundit warfare in the French press which left him politically handicapped. I asked him how he would shake off the centralizer image in the Rest of Canada and Satan in Quebec. He said that’s up to us. (I squirmed! I still love Stephane Dion!)

I got a chance to see Gerard again. And sadly, Gerard has lost the honor of being my second choice. He addressed the youth and I will be honest, I didn’t catch most of it, I was off checking out the goalie. The impression and hype that was building around Gerard set unreasonable expectations around him. He is a great candidate but don’t tell anyone Gerard is fluently bilingual. He understands French perfectly. But sorry guys, not bilingual.

Ken Dryden give an interesting speech at his lunch. Ken is a fantastic person chasing his second dream in life which is to lead the country. This isn’t as easy as beating the Leafs or Bruins, Ken knows full well. However, the rust of his French is slowly coming off and he will have to pick up the pace to be competitive in Quebec.

I met Bob Rae later in the day, who didn’t say much after he saw I was wearing a Michael button on my shirt. I cant say anything good or bad, he didn’t say anything to me. Ah well. Moving on…

Scott Brison was entertaining as usual. His French is improving drastically as he completely understands the language. But he still sounds like some dude from Halifax trying to speak French. It’s a little funny. But good on you Scott for getting it better. Scott claimed to be practicing his French more on the weekend with his in-laws who live in Drummondville. Good for you Scott!

Those were the six I happened to meet this weekend. It was a bunch of fun, great seeing the party is in such good spirits following such a devastating loss. The rebuilding is clearly underway, and aside from marsha’s mad ravings about stopping iggy, the weekend was overwhelmingly positive. Marsha, I know you don’t use the internet much but choose a candidate and support them. You’re always against something. Support something for a change, you’ll feel fantastic! I feel fantastic too!