October 31, 2006

Were They Reading the Same Resolution?

I heart the CBC

I always did. But after last night's National, I heart them even more

Here is the clip....fast forward to 14 minutes in and watch the report on the Nation question.

KEITH BOAG (CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT):

Wendy, tonight is another restless one for Liberals as they continue to blame each other for allowing their leadership campaign to become trapped in an argument about Quebec and the constitution. The argument started here, Montreal, just over a week ago. The Quebec wing of the party adopted a resolution to be voted on at the national convention at the end of November. The resolution recognizes Quebec as a nation, and it describes a process for figuring out how to formalize that. It doesn't mention reopening the constitution, but most accept that is what it meant. The question is when.

MICHAEL IGNATIEFF (LIBERAL LEADERSHIP CANDIDATE):

First we have to see whether it's adopted.

KEITH BOAG (CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT):

Leadership frontrunner Michael Ignatieff supported the resolution, and some of his key backers claim they were responsible for its success. He has in the past talked about reopening the constitution in the future. It's in platform documents, but what he said here didn't sound all that urgent:

MICHAEL IGNATIEFF (LIBERAL LEADERSHIP CANDIDATE):

And you choose a leader, and his job is to find the moment, find the possibility when we could do something. If it's not possible, it's not possible.

KEITH BOAG (CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT):

His closest rival, Bob Rae, cast it a little differently:

BOB RAE (LIBERAL LEADERSHIP CANDIDATE):

I have no particular problem with the formulation of the words "Quebec is a nation." Where I part company with some is the extent to which the constitution... we should be reopening the constitution at this point in time.

KEITH BOAG (CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT):

"At this point in time." That, more or less, set the tone. Rae and Stéphane Dion led a growing chorus of detractors who claimed it was Ignatieff's bad idea to reopen the constitution soon.

End Quote -----

Watch Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff respond to the resolution that was passed in Montreal. How could Bob say what he said and oppose the resolution. Makes me wonder if someone perhaps gave Bob the wrong text. After that comment. he should theoretically be in favor of what was passed...

Bob's position continues to puzzle me

October 30, 2006

Dispelling Nation Mythology

Yes, the mythology is back. This time, it is coming from federalists. This slippery slope to stupidity is running out its course and the debate around how this infamous nation resolution came about has created its own mythology. Time to take some time off from debunking separatist mythology to dispel some mythology surrounding the infamous nation resolution.

Myth no. 1. This resolution was brought forward by the Ignatieff campaign in an attempt to create a stunt.

The following quote is from Marc Garneau, co-chair of the working group for the renewal of the Liberal Party in Quebec.

He was on Question Period defending the integrity of the Commission.

“Following this consultation, we undertook, with the help of the Party's Quebec Political Commission, the process of reviewing, collating and integrating the various inputs into a series political resolutions. The concept of recognizing the Quebec Nation emerged clearly as an important issue for Quebec Liberals and this, regardless of which leadership candidate they were backing.

Let's be clear on this matter as we move forward. The fruit of the work undertaken by the Quebec Working Group for "A Renewed Liberal Vision" accurately reflects the will of Quebec Liberals.

Furthermore, the adoption by a large majority of members of the resolution to recognize the Quebec Nation transcends partisan politics and the leadership race. Men and women from all camps worked for and strongly endorsed this resolution. Why? Because they have concluded (as I have) that it's time to reach out to Quebec in order to make Canada a stronger country.”
You cannot get clearer than that. I was one of the people on that committee. The campaign did not put anyone up to anything. In fact, the amendment was from the pen of a Dion supporter. At Conseil, Quebecers from all camps endorsed this resolution.

Myth no. 2. Michael is only taking this position as a political opportunist.

This one frustrates me quite a bit. Michael Ignatieff has recognized Quebec as a nation since 1993 when he wrote Blood and Belonging. He has held on to that position firmly since then, as seen through the Massey Lectures for the CBC (2000). Don’t be too surprised the same notion ended up in Ignatieff’s platform.

In fact Michael is the only one to hold onto that position for so long. Stephane Dion, in 1996, supported Quebec nationhood and its recognition in the Constitution.

Bob Rae, as recently as August 2006, said "I always supported the notion that Quebec . . . is a nation, it is a distinct society, which we need to recognize in our Constitution and I have fought for that," Mr. Rae said. Bob wants to open the constitution later. So does Michael. They seemingly have the same position but now Bob Rae is saying otherwise. A complete flip flop from Bob Rae…Luckily for us, Michael knows how to
fight back.

Myth No. 3. Michael Ignatieff will open the constitution before you can pour milk on your corn flakes December 3rd.

This is ridiculous Rae spin.

Michael has NEVER set out a timetable for when he was actually going to put this forward and with good reason, he, like everybody else (Rae, Kennedy, and Dion), wants winning conditions before we do any of this, but at least Michael is willing to say that he will go forward instead of closingthe door as Rae and Dion have done.

The resolution that was passed, and endorsed by Ignatieff, but rejected by Rae and Dion, only called for a working group, similar to a recommendation made by former Justice Minister, and Bob Rae’s most prominent federalist supporter, Martin Cauchon, in his report to the Liberal Party. Cauchon recommended we recognize Quebec as a nation, but said we cannot open the constitution now because we are not ready. This is exactly what Michael is proposing.

Bob Rae and Stephane Dion, by rejecting the resolution, are saying they are not open to discussing how the Liberal Party should approach this delicate subject, despite the fact they BOTH SUPPORT QUEBEC NATIONHOOD.

They are avoiding the issue. The media here in Quebec is raking them over the coals for it, and rightly so.

Myth no. 4. Separatists will use this issue to further their cause for independence.

Rejected Endorsement of the Week: Bernard Landry, PQ premier (2001-2003)

Landry’s efforts to undermine Ignatieff and the PLC(Q)’s position were a great success in English Canada. However, they were a non-starter in Quebec.

This recognition is not a concession. In fact, I think no candidate has been clearer than Ignatieff on the fact that he will not devolve any powers to the provincial governments. Canadian federalism depends on playing by the rules we already have. Landry knows it is favorable to sovereigntists if the Liberals continue to reject Quebec as a nation. They are scared to make federalism relevant in Quebec again.

That is why we need this task force. We need to delicately maneuver through all the land mines that can explode in our faces. It is a daunting task; it is one that ALL LIBERALS must do together. By saying they would not allow such a task force, it is Dion and Rae who are dividing the party.

Myth no. 5. Only Ignatieff supporters support this resolution.

Lucienne Robillard, Liza Frulla and Marc Garneau are only a short list of Quebec federalists who have come out in favor of this resolution.

Yesterday the YLC(Q), Quebec’s influential youth wing has decided to come out in favor of the resolution, as an executive, without objection from any of the camps who are on our executive. To our generation, Quebec’s status as a nation is a given. Blame the education system if you want, but to us, there is no problem identifying to both nations, and that is why we continue to scratch our heads over the stubbornness showed by some Liberals outside Quebec.

Add this to the 80%+ of delegates present at the Conseil General who supported this resolution, the Liberal Party in Quebec has never been more united, despite the leadership, across the lines of all candidate camps.

Even the Tory hardline that Andrew Coyne and L. Ian Macdonald would have you believe, is on very shaky ground. This weekend, none other then Montreal’s Cabinet Minister Michael Fortier said that Quebec was indeed a nation. Lawrence Cannon, Harper’s Quebec Lieutenant and De Facto Deputy PM, said it was nation.

The separatist attacks on Ignatieff and the PLC(Q) fell flat this week as pressure builds on Bob Rae and Stephane Dion to stop ignoring their Quebec supporters and rally behind this issue, one of paramount importance to the future of our party.

This is not an Ignatieff issue, it is a Quebec issue. The rest of Canada ignores it at their own peril.

October 29, 2006

5 Things Feminism Has Done For Me


Everyone has experienced the feeling of being talked to like an idiot. One minute you think you’re entering a conversation with another normal, respectful person, and then BAM! Suddenly you find yourself talking to someone who is condescending, patronizing, annoyed, bored, or a million tip-offs that indicate you’ve been instantly judged and the judgment ‘aint good. Sometimes it’s because of your age, sometimes it’s the colour of your skin, and sometimes it’s your gender.

Being disrespected because of my gender is something to which I’m never going to be accustomed. Whether it be denial of a job for which I’m perfectly qualified, a party joke with a mysoginistic punch-line, or the look of shock on someone’s face because I know how a car engine works or have a favourite NFL wide-receiver – I’m simply never going to stop being angry.

However, rather than let that anger eat away at my soul, I have learned to control and channel that negative energy into positive action that furthers equality, not just between men and women, but between all members of society. And where did I get the tools, the inspiration, and the courage to do this? Why feminism of course ;-) So this is my official thank-you to feminism. The concept, the movement, the history, and the supporters.

And without further ado, a sample of 5 things feminism has done for me:

1. Every time I hear an insult like “slut,” “ho,” or “skank,” I can turn around and say, “Yup. So what’s your point?”

2. I can swear as much as I want, and if you don’t like it, that’s your own fucking problem.

3. I can choose not to marry nor have kids and still live a fulfilling life.

4. When I see another woman, I don’t see her as a competitor, but rather a potential friend, compatriot, and source of support.

5. My self worth is defined on my own terms, and not what movies, magazines, rap music, or Focus on the Family tried to tell me when I was growing up. Disney Cinderella, Barbie, and Betty Crocker were imaginary women, but Henrietta Muir Edwards, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Rosa Parks, Indira Ghandi, my mother, and my grandmother were all real.

There is much progress still to be made, but I have profound respect for what’s already been done. Thank you, feminism.

October 27, 2006

Looks Like Being a Socialist Did Teach Him a Few Things

My friend Kyle points out that our dear friend Bob Rae has no problem with medical clinics selling services outside medicare. We already have private clinics in Quebec and the entire system has not collapsed. I will still get service when I need it and the delays are not too long.

No wonder Bob Rae left the NDP, could you imagine these comments uttered anywhere near Jack Layton, something would have exploded in the background somewhere.

Here is what Bob Rae said. I believe it is a perfectly legitimate position. As long as public money does not fund these people, then it does not hurt Medicare.

Still, Rae isn’t as hard-core a lefty as some.

He is not opposed to Alberta-style privatization of health-care services, for instance.“I think that if people decide they want to take responsibility for their own health-care and go to a private health clinic, that’s their business,” he said.

“I don’t think you can ban private medicine in Canada. I don’t think that’s an intelligent solution.“It’s a decision for provinces to make.

“The one thing that is clear is that the provincial government or the public sector should not be subsidizing private care.”

So much for the most left candidate. I can imagine some people scratching their heads.

October 25, 2006

Where does the “Nation” fit in?

Many people think this nation business is a dangerous walk down a slippery slope into breaking this country apart. However, it is one of the major planks in a plan to strengthen the Canadians Federation more than anyone ever before.

If the Liberal Party of Canada is going to fully renew itself, it must come to terms with the errors it made in the past, and propose viable solutions for the future.

While the Chretien governments did a fantastic job managing the economy and restoring the fiscal house to order, they also made a few mistakes. As we examine the effort that this party has given to make Canada what it is today, there are a few mistakes that have been made.

Who is to blame for the mess we presently face? Depends what you think the problem is.

One main problem with Canada today is the state of federal/provincial relations. We can blame Brian Mulroney for his fractious and combative comments on the issue. (thanks asshole!)

The federal government no longer has the respect of Quebecers and some would say Westerners, as the federal government refuses to acknowledge something as simple as Quebec nationhood or western alienation in their effort to keep Canada together (Blame regional parties like the Reform and Bloc for that). The federal government has taken no steps to bring Quebec into the Constitutional fold since 1992, despite a promise on the eve of the 1995 referendum.

Thirdly, the fiscal imbalance created by Paul Martin in 1995 with his devastating but necessary cuts that were not fixed in 2000 when we ran a 17 billion dollar surplus and cut taxes by 100 billion dollars rather than restoring the transfers.

Ok now follow my argument…hear me out…disagree at the end.

There you have it. An enormous problem facing Canada right now is that dastardly fiscal imbalance. What is the fiscal imbalance? Time for some historical perspective.

In 1949, Uncle Louis (Saint-Laurent) wanted to implement the Welfare State in Canada. Except he had a big problem: most of the welfare state lay firmly in provincial jurisdiction. Thank You Fathers of Confederation! Before WW2, the government’s role was to encourage trade and provide protection to its citizens; they were not supposed to provide education or medical care. After the war, the people wanted this welfare state, and the Liberals wanted to implement it.

All the money was at the federal level, and all the services were supposed to be administered provincially. The federal government needed to send a massive transfer to the provinces but this was not going to be a blank check. Uncle Louis and Mike Pearson had inter-provincial negotiations with the Premiers, who were actually quite co-operative. Back then, they sat down to do the right thing for their constituents. Those were the good days. We got Medicare and the Canada Pension Plan out of it.

When Premiers start taking down flags, or threaten to leave Canada every 5 minutes, we no longer have co-operative federalism.

Back to today, where costs of provincial services are going up, especially health care and education. In fact they are rising faster than the costs of everything else. To make matters worse, when presented with the opportunity to restore the money, the Liberal government cut taxes by 100 billion dollars, placing the provincial governments in a crunch. We, of course, wanted to get re-elected.

As we now run surplus after surplus, we must acknowledge it is becoming easier to meet our financial obligations while it is getting more difficult for provinces. It is time for more co-operative federalism.

Brian Mulroney did a good job convincing people that inter-provincial relations have always been difficult in Canada. Since Meech Lake, the provinces and the federal government have been at each other’s throats with the provinces usually blaming Ottawa for their problems. All parties are guilty of the same crime. It is always Ottawa’s fault and with clowns like Danny Williams who takes down the Canadian flag to score political points, this hardly helps the situation. No government is more combative as of late than the Quebec government, who wants every power entitled to them under the Canadian constitution sections 92, 93, and 95. They will take every inch and probably ask for more. In this leadership race, nobody has proposed they get more, especially not Michael Ignatieff.

Most negotiations require good faith. That is what Quebec nation is all about. It is about recognizing the fundamental difference of Quebec society. It is not a concession. It does not give additional powers. It is, as Andrew Coyne et al state, symbolic. It is a symbol that Ottawa does respect the Quebec people and their place as a francophone society within North America. It is an asset to Canada to share this society with common values and ideals, a civic nation within Canada. Once the federal government levels with Quebec City, negotiations can begin on how to properly address the fiscal imbalance. We can begin to mend the inter-provincial wounds that have been inflicted on the Canadian federation. The nation is about getting our foot in the door. It is not a concession, but a mere recognition of a truth that the federal government has denied Quebec for so long.

What prevents this overture to Quebec is the fear of some candidates who share the same dream as Michael Ignatieff but lack the courage to follow through. Michael has left the door open to future negotiations because he knows it is necessary to regain the good faith and trust of the Quebec people.

As for the lack of political courage, you would expect more from these two veterans.

h/t to Brad Davis, Wonk-in-Chief at Ignatieff HQ in Toronto

Here is Bob Rae

"I always supported the notion that Quebec . . . is a nation, it is a distinct society, which we need to recognize in our Constitution and I have fought for that," Mr. Rae said. "The genius behind federalism is that we can be both a Quebecker and a Canadian."

That is from August (9 weeks ago) 2006

This is from Stephane Dion, who is entitled to change his mind after 10 years, but some would like to know why…

I urge the hon. member to look at the recognition of Quebec on its own merit, why it is good, why it is bad. I think it is good. It is good for our country. It is good for Canadian values. It would not endanger the charter of rights and freedoms. It would not endanger equality between citizens. It would be a great thing to recognize Quebec distinctiveness as a fundamental characteristic of our country. … Mr. Speaker, one thing is clear. This government has said that we do not want to make a change in the Constitution if it is not supported by Canadians. So we will try to convince Canadians that in order to reconcile Quebecers and other Canadians it would be a fair and good thing to recognize that in this anglophone North America there is a province of Canada that is francophone and this is an asset for Canada. If it were the province of the hon. member that was francophone we would recognize this province without any problem and we would be proud of it.”

I assume he was referring to the upcoming Calgary Declaration

Stephane has said he has never retracted anything up until this point in the campaign. How can he justify his vote against the resolution at Conseil when it enshrined the same principles he espouses in the above comment?

Is he afraid to sell this possible package to Canadians? Why was he willing soon after the 1995 referendum and not now? Was it necessary then and not now? Why would they not accept it?

Why are Bob Rae and Stephane Dion scared? Together, if we look back at our mistakes, and seek to correct them together, we can be the party which Canadians have relied upon time after time to take them to the next level in terms of social justice. Fear has never stopped the Liberal Party before. Fear will not stop us now,

UPDATE: The one major problem with my argument is I ignore western alienation, which is another major obstacle facing Canada. Western alienation found its roots in Bible Bill Aberhart’s Social Credit follies from 1920s Alberta. The period of co-operative federalism ended western alienation as relations with Ottawa improved. If the West is indeed under-represented, it should be taken up with the federal government at the next negotiation following the Quebec one. We must deal with one at a time. Would the west risk losing Quebec because they did not want to wait their turn? I would hope not. Once federal-provincial relations are in better shape, we no longer have to hold our knives to our throats if a certain discussion fails to achieve a consensus.

Poster Child of the New Liberal Party

Fuddle Duddle Sits Down with Martha Hall Findlay

A while back, when it was actually warm in Montreal, I sat down with Martha Hall Findlay in Old Montreal. I saw the Marthamobile on De la Commune roll up and I knew I was in for an interesting day.

All my friends know how I tend to yak on and on, so I only got to the personality questions and the questions about Quebec. Me and Martha dished on the Newmarket-Aurora battle between her and Belinda as well as her future plans to run for a seat. However, I spent the majority of the interview feeling out her personality, and I from what I gathered that summer day, the train has just left the station.

First things first, I asked Martha what her favorite color is, which happens to be green. I have nailed a few politicians on this question before. I don’t really give a hoot what your favorite color is. I just don’t want people thinking about what their favorite color is because its such a simple question. Martha answered green, I asked why. “Green because I always liked green.” So Bull Shit test passed, you have earned my respect.

She is a Leafs fan, (nobody is perfect) and like all of us, admitted to being a little disloyal when the flames and oilers were getting all Canadian hopes up the past few years. It’s ok Martha. But get back to me when you find those color photographs of the last Leaf Victory Parade.

The last bit of fun was one word associations where I ask people to say the first word that pops into their head when I mention something completely random. This is another test to see if they are getting all political about it.

Curling (laughs): Canadian (more laughing…at least she is enjoying herself)
Stephen Harper: Unnerving…vocabulary..check
Poutine: GREAT! (BIG POINTS HERE!) I would have preferred nutritious, but not bad for a Leafs Fan

A great point in the interview was when Martha brought up why she waited til now to enter politics. She implied that had she left three children at home while being an MP, people would frown on it, as a mother has to raise her children. I agree here. Feminism aside, society still perceives women as caretakers and men as providers. It is wrong to see it that way but that doesn’t change how it is. Martha brought up Mark Holland, who has three young children but spends a lot of time in Ottawa as an MP. She asks, would it be as politically correct for a woman to be an MP leaving her kids at home with the husband? Very Insightful. I won’t ever be a mother (and if I turned out anything like mine, God save the world) but based on my experience when I was a page, I noticed the women had much more trouble in Ottawa managing their families.

Why the Liberal Party? She actually answered the question. She said she watched as her party took the wrong position on the GST and Free Trade, but her social policy is what made her Liberal. “The NDP sound great, and it just drives me crazy because they say everything you wanna do, but have no clue as to actually how to do it.” I wonder which example of NDP government Martha would look to prove that point. I am not putting words in her mouth, but I should have asked her.

She quoted Scott Brison “We are not left, we are not right, we are forward.”

I moved on to the Newmarket Affair, and gave her an opportunity to skip the issue, she said ask, don’t worry and answered all the questions I had…they were all gossip related, but here are the highlights:

Do you regret giving up the riding? “No, it was the right thing to do. I would do it again if the situation was the same.”

Were people in the riding upset? “Yes”

There are some people who believe you are still more qualified than Belinda Stronach to hold political office, do you agree? Ok she dodged here…but she said “I was the more qualified candidate in 2004” and left it at that. Haha Good Job Martha!

How many bilingual women under the age of 50 are there in the Liberal Caucus? She didn’t know. It was a trick question. The answer is NONE. That is right, we get one young bilingual, actively vocal woman on our roster and what happens, and we toss her aside for a 6 month reprieve at power…nothing against Belinda, but things like this drive me mad. Martha managed to calm me down…she is so nice.

I, on the other hand, clearly have issues.

We talked about floor-crossing, and Martha believes people should sit as an independent until the next election. I asked if Martha could have beaten Belinda in a nomination meeting in May 2005 and she said she would have won.

Where do you wanna run now? “I have said to anybody who listens, I wanna run in the GTA.” (ahem Martha….Trinity Spadina, we need less Olivia Chow)

Quebec, naturally was a big issue for me but I am sure you heard enough from me so I will briefly state her position.

Everybody knows my position but not many know Martha’s. She has a difficulty consolidating the view that recognizing Quebec’s nationhood leaves out many other groups in Canada, which in my opinion, is the most valid criticism of the plan. She makes her position clear that she believes the Quebec people form a sociological nation but is uncomfortable putting that into the country’s founding document.

We discussed the issue more in depth but were always stuck on that one contentious point. It has been a while. Perhaps I should give her another shout.

Martha Hall Findlay is the type of candidate we should be looking for in all 308 ridings. She has the energy necessary to address the difficulties facing this country, and she is more than capable of representing whichever constituents she chooses to represent. When it comes to injecting new blood into the party, nobody can do it with more class and dignity than Martha Hall Findlay.

She can associate with the average Canadian as a successful businesswoman, as a mother, and as an overall caring, compassionate person. I would be hard-pressed to find another new candidate more vital to the party’s future than someone like her.

It is a shame she did not get elected in 2004, or else, who knows, she might have more than 1% of the delegates going to Montreal. I look forward to seeing her in the House of Commons after the next general election. The Liberal Party needs more good people, and I could not think of a better poster child for the renewed Liberal Party than Martha Hall Findlay.

Good Luck Martha!

Liberals Ignore their History in Quebec…Boisclair soars to a 14 Point Lead

Ever since the time Levesque was gang-raped in the night (those who read FD know this is what I call the Night of the Long Knives) the Liberals have never won a majority of seats in Quebec. In fact, in every election the Tories were united, we have had fewer votes than the Conservatives, except 2004 when it was still the Reform Party to most Quebecers. Not surprisingly, all were Tory victories.

So before people go trumpeting the success of Trudeau and Chretien federalism, think twice, the gang-rape cost us the fortress, and our rejection of Meech created the new fortress, the Bloc Quebecois.

So, the Tories, and then the Bloc beat us in every election since 1982, we win the referendum by a whisker, and now that the Tories are competitive, we are reduced to our mini-fortress on the island of Montreal. Most recently, both parties received more votes.

Please do not lecture me on constitutional success in Quebec when 49.53% of Quebecers voted YES and almost broke the country apart. People forget Chretien’s passionate plea that night in Verdun: Le Canada est mon pays, le Quebec c’est ma patrie! That speech was a deathbed conversion. Even Chretien realized he may have erred by rejecting Meech…merely 4 days before the decisive vote. It regained us enough votes to pull out the victory. He also promised constitutional change which never came. The promise of the last referendum fell on deaf ears. Nobody has even talked about it, until now.

Andre Boisclair now boasts a 64% approval rating and the PQ have soared back into the lead with a 14 point advantage (38-24) on the heels of the lumber mill closings in Quebec. The election is next spring, and a PQ victory would trigger a referendum by Fall 2007 or Spring 2008. How can we promise anything then, will it not be too late? Will another deathbed conversion be able to save us this time?

We need to talk about re-opening the constitution. It does not have to be now. It has to be somewhere in the near future. We must bring forward this discourse to the Quebec people now, as even the rank and file has acknowledged this fact. Michael Ignatieff never said he will open the constitution tomorrow morning while you are brushing your teeth. This is a big project which we must prepare for. Not to sound too Bouchard-esque, the federalists need “winning conditions” in order to pass such a major recognition. Ignatieff has not set out too much of a timetable although with these new PQ numbers, I would encourage him to do so.

We have 4 options left in this race. Two who will compromise: Michael Ignatieff and Gerard Kennedy, and two who will not, Bob Rae and Stephane Dion. Quebecers will not take very kindly to someone who just backhanded them in the face by denying the obvious. Kennedy is more moderate, saying we need to ensure that this measure passes, but not saying how or when he would do anything. Michael Ignatieff is not scarred by the failures of the past. He is best positioned to take on Boisclair in a referendum that may be as near as 18 months away. Canadians can no longer afford to look the other way.

October 24, 2006

The Anglophone Media Responds

In the interests of full disclosure, the anglophone newspaper predictably responds by sounding every alarm they possibly can. This goes to the whole West Island Fortress idea many French journalists were bringing up. The Gazette is hardly known for being a leader in recognizing Quebec anything. (However while bringing up the fact they once proposed joining the United States or that they supported assimilation would be smearing, that never stops separatists) MacPherson blames Ignatieff supporters for making the Liberal Party go this way, yet he interviews no Ignatieff supporter. In fact, he interviewed a Rae supporter who disagreed with his own boss.
80% of the people in the room supported the resolution. No way it was only ignatieff supporters who voted for the resolution...but no need for the facts Don, you are too busy inventing conspiracy theories for that.

Liberal Party prepared to rip itself apart over Quebec 'nationhood'

But provincial Liberals already reject the policy as not going far enough

DON MACPHERSON, The Gazette
Published: Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Guided only by political opportunism and with no other idea of where they're going, the Quebec members of the federal Liberal Party giddily decided on the weekend to take the country on another doomed expedition into the great dismal swamp of constitutional reform.


To the sound of Pierre Trudeau turning in his grave, the Quebec wing of his old party adopted a resolution recognizing this province as a nation.

The resolution stops well short of saying this recognition should be enshrined in the constitution. Rather, it would leave it up to a "task force" to advise the party's next leader on when and how to "officialize" recognition, and doesn't even mention the constitution.

"It could be political or cultural," the proposer of the final version of the resolution, William Hogg, a Bishop's University political scientist, told me yesterday. "It doesn't have to be formalized. We didn't want to tie the hands of the next leader or take a position in favour of any of the candidates."

But that important detail was buried deep below the headlines raising the expectations of Quebec newspaper readers, to whom constitutional recognition with real effect is the only kind that matters.

With that one ill-considered resolution, the Liberals have ensured that the explosive issue of Quebec's identity and status polarizes their party's national convention later this fall and therefore the country as it is about to head into elections at the federal and Quebec levels.

They also have made sure that the new leader who will be chosen there will start out already weakened and on the defensive in one part of the country or another.


They did so by making the resolution a priority, sending it directly to the convention's plenary session to be debated by all the delegates. So either the convention as a whole will recognize Quebec as a nation, or it will not. And even the leadership candidates who have studiously avoided the question will be forced to take a position.

This is all Michael Ignatieff's fault. Convinced that he is smarter than all the people who have tried and failed to settle the Quebec question during the three decades that he was out of the country, he has proposed to recognize Quebec as a nation in the constitution.

This has made Ignatieff popular in Quebec. More elected convention delegates from this province support him than any other candidate (though together, the delegates supporting Stephane Dion and Bob Rae, who oppose constitutional recognition of Quebec as a nation, outnumber Ignatieff's). And Ignatieff's supporters dominated the meeting at which the Quebec resolution was adopted.

But none of the Quebec commentators who have been cheering him on suggest there is even a remote chance of success of his constitutional proposal in the foreseeable future.

And while the mere word "nation" might be too much for English Canada to swallow when applied to Quebec as well as aboriginals, the recognition he is proposing is purely symbolic, and so empty that no Quebec government could accept it.

The campaign manifesto in which he made the proposal says recognition would not be "a prelude to further devolution of powers."

Nor would it be an interpretive clause like the "distinct-society" clause in the ill-fated Meech Lake accord, directing governments, legislatures and the courts to take Quebec's nationhood into account in interpreting the rest of the constitution, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. For Ignatieff's "fundamental principles" that are to be respected in the constitution include "the unity of Canadian citizenship" and "the primacy of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms."

This falls well short of Quebec's "minimal" position in the Meech Lake accord, as well as the position of its current federalist government.

Benoit Pelletier, the Charest government's minister for Canadian intergovernmental affairs and architect of its position on federal-provincial relations, said diplomatically yesterday that he is "encouraged" that the idea of recognizing Quebec is "advancing."

But, he also told me, the Charest government "favours" recognizing Quebec in the constitution, which is more than what the Quebec federal Liberals are offering, and in an interpretive clause, which is more than what Ignatieff is offering.

So even before the federal Liberal convention tears itself apart over the offers, Quebec has already rejected them.

October 23, 2006

The Divider

Well after some allegations flew my way this past weekend, Chantal Hebert took Stephane Dion to the cleaners on Les Coulisses du Pouvoir and in the Star and Le Devoir, and Vincent Marissal saying Dion was sunk, it was Michel C. Auger’s turn to lambaste Dion. Jason Cherniak says I am too scared that Dion can actually do well in Quebec. I wonder how long he will remain so blind to the obvious.

The Divider
by Michel C. Auger

Has the one we are used to come back to his usual gallop or has the pressure finally become too much at the end of the race? All I know is that Stephane Dion used this weekend’s general council of the Liberal Party of Canada (Quebec) to prove he does not have what it takes to be Prime Minister.

From the beginning of the campaign, Mr Dion had succeeded in re-inventing himself as a sympathetic champion of the environment. But on one Saturday afternoon, he showed that he is a politician who divides instead of a leader who unites.

First off, there was a debate on the recognition of Quebec as a nation within Canada. This is a change of pace from the party of Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chretien. The question turned into a battle between the supporters of Michael Ignatieff, who recognize this recognition, and those of Bob Rae and Stephane Dion, who oppose it. For them it is a strategic argument: do not raise expectations or deviate the debate towards symbolic questions.


That being the case, Mr. Rae and Mr. Dion proposed, once again, that the federal Liberals in Quebec separate themselves from the majority of federalist Quebecers, who are, by a very large majority, moving in the same direction as the Liberal Party of Quebec (provincial)

While federal Liberals are on the endangered species list off the West Island of Montreal, it should be time to reconciliate with the PLQ and the majority if Quebec federalists. Not the old paternalistic attitude that we must treat Quebecers like mischievous children up to a few shenanigans.

That which is encouraging, and we saw it Saturday, is that there is no longer a majority of support for the ideas of Mr. Dion within his own party. It should show his supporters from other parties how he is disconnected from what goes on in his own backyard and that he cannot rebuild this party in Quebec.

Mr. Dion’s strategy on Saturday was to repeat as much as possible that Liberals needed a leader who was not “linked to the errors of the past”. For him, the only mistake that applies to is the Sponsorship scandal. Not to the way the LPC treated federalist Quebecers under Mr. Trudeau or Mr. Chretien.

There is the substance, but there was also his style.

Mr. Dion had the opportunity to speak last after a largely passionless debate. This was the moment where he could show himself as a uniter. At home, in his city. All Mr Dion had to do was show a bit of class and score in an empty net. Instead he chose the tone of lecturer, with an added bonus, the courage of a guy who attacks at a moment where others cannot respond. (edit: I could not say it better myself)

Two minutes to remind Bob Rae he was a disaster as a Prime Minister of Ontario, then he tried to cite an article from Michael Ignatieff, written in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, on a strong solution to impose on the Middle East. When Ignatieff supporters began to shout him down, as if he were the arrogant smart aleck in the class, he accused the boo-birds of not wanting to hear the truth (edit: I would have preferred to hear the truth Stephane, if only you were offering it.)

Except that, by doing what he did, Stephane Dion violated an unwritten rule of a leadership campaign: never do the work of other parties by undermining another candidate’s credibility when they might become leader.

In fact, he did much worse, he imported one of the most pernicious tactics of the United States. In the US, for a few years now, we choose candidates who have not written a lot. No Paper trail, we say in English.

We can hang whomever we want, especially an intellectual, by taking his words from a long time ago and using them in today’s context. In the US, this has given candidates who are vague an advantage where they do not propose anything because it may come back to haunt them. George W. Bush is the best example of this kind of politician.

Saturday night, the Dion camp sent an email to all journalists with a Michael Ignatieff quote from 2001. “Do not ask me what exact constitutional demands should be, I ignore that. That is up to lawyers to cut through it and frankly, the subject bores me.”

This was in 2001, when Mr. Ignatieff was not in politics and had all the right in the world to find the subject boring. Except today, we notice he did his homework and thought up a few solutions.

Stephane Dion always knew what the constitutional demands were from Quebec. He always rejected them with the back of his hand.

October 22, 2006

Better to be an Idiot than to be a Liar

Wow. Today I am embarrassed to be a Liberal for many reasons. We all knew from the get go that the niceties would not last forever. Yesterday, it all came to a boil at College Maisonneuve in Montreal.

In December 2005, the Tories issued a statement saying Michael Ignatieff supported torture. The party and its leader, Paul Martin, stood to defend Michael as it was a clear and baseless smear.

If Bob Rae was not still cutting checks to the NDP at the time, he would have gotten the memo that in this party there is no room for this kind of smear. This issue was put to bed before Bob even joined the Liberal Party. Why bring the smear up today? In a word? Desperation.

We, Paul Wells' youthful and useful idiots, have defended Michael Ignatieff against a hell of a lot of smearing lately, most of it directly from the NDP handbook used by Jack Layton and borrowed by Mr, Rae today. Bob got booed because he brought up a baseless attack knowing full well Michael does not support torture. It was a cheap political attack, and Rae supporters, knowing of it in advance, got up to cheer the lie that Bob Rae was trying to desperately perpetrate.

However, it pales in comparison to the Rovian Republican drive-by smear that Mr Dion tried to make in his “hit-and-run” conclusion. Dion, saying that some people had things to answer for, after refusing to admit the same thing about his record on the environment the previous week, brings up an article from 2002 where Michael Ignatieff says that if a two state solution is not imposed in Israel, it will degenerate into an inferno. You would think that would be a compliment considering Michael was proven right this year, but that was not where Dion was going with this. Dion was using the title of the article to smear and to claim Michael was a bigger hawk than George W. Bush. For a man who passed the Clarity Act, I would never expect these kinds of smoke and mirrors.

After the crowd took Dion to task for trying to smear (remember Michael was not on stage and could not defend himself) Dion whined about his time allocation and was on the verge of tears. If anything, yesterday proved that Dion will never be leader. Even a senior organizer confided “it’s over.” Today’s headline from Vincent Marissal, Dion flunks/sinks/fails (the word is coule)

This party had decided that the baseless attacks in leadership campaigns were over…I guess that rule only had to apply to Mr. Ignatieff. Paul Wells can call us youthful idiots. However, we have to stick up for our leader should he win, and how will the Bob Rae people stick up for Michael when the NDP accuses him of endorsing torture. What credibility will they have left? Did Paul Wells assume the whole room was Ignatieff supporters? Rae people booed too. So did Dion people at different times. That is not to say that since all three major camps booed at one point or another, that it is ok. But that is what happened.


What happened today was shameful indeed. The desperation came out and true colors were revealed. This race is about choosing someone who will lead, not someone who will mislead. Call us idiots Mr. Wells, but I would rather be an idiot than be a liar.


UPDATE BY ALEX : Chantal Hébert called what Rae and Dion did yesterday "l'énergie du désespoir" which could be translated to desperate last stand. Watch the clip . She called their strategy "scorched earth", she explained that the attacks should have been on the Nation resolution but they didn't have the guts to do it.

BTW, I booed too. It may not have been very classy but we were right and the smears of Rae and Dion weren't very classy either.

October 20, 2006

Damn, now where did I put his mailing address... oh that's right, "ninth circle of hell"

Dear Peter,

You disgrace yourself, your riding, your party, the government, and this country. You are dead to me.

Denise

October 19, 2006

Peter Mackay, vicieux et disgracieux

Peter Mackay a atteint le fond du baril aujourd'hui. Comme à l'habitude, les députés s'envoient des boutades d'un bord et de l'autre de la Chambre. Mark Holland, député libéral d'Ajax-Pickering, a demandé à M. Mackay comment se porterait son chien suite au "Hot Air Plan" annoncé par le gouvernement réformiste. Oups, pas réformiste, allianciste. Non, conservateur. M. Mackay lui a donc répondu que sa chienne était là. Il pointait la chaise de la députée de Newmarket-Aurora, Belinda Stronach. Belinda était absente de la Chambre, elle rencontrait un organisme caritatif de Montréal.

Cette attaque n'est pas seulement vicieuse mais également profondément sexiste en traitant Mme Stronach de chienne. J'espère sincèrement que M. Mackay aura l'obligeance de s'excuser pour ses propos disgracieux. Sinon, on pourra croire que c'est simplement la façon conservatrice de traiter les femmes. On abolit les programmes pour le statut de la femme, on coupe le programme de garderie pour que les femmes restent à la maison à torcher les enfants et leur mari, et on démontre bien peu d'égard pour les députés féminines.

Sophie Desmarais, fille de la célèbre famille montréalaise et nouvelle conquête de M. Mackay, devrait se poser des questions sur sa relation avec le "Don Juan" conservateur. Pourquoi éprouve-t-il autant de sentiments négatifs envers Belinda ? Est-il vraiment passé à autre chose ?

Bonne soirée,

Alex

Top Ten Reasons Why This Week is a Gong Show

10) Stephen Harper gets a poll saying the Liberals and Tories are neck and neck. Stephen harper does the right thing and kicks out the reason for his slump in the polls, Garth Turner.


9) Ignatieff campaign co-chair Denis Coderre officially makes worst joke in parliamentary history, talking about Jean-Pierre Blackburn as Lawrence Cannon’s, long lost brother Loose Cannon (I know, it’s even more pathetic when it’s translated)

8) Coderre redeems himself by calling Development Minister Josee Verner an “innocente qui n’a pas sa place au Cabinet” Rough translation: She is a clueless person who doesn’t belong in Cabinet. I would scold Denis for being mean…but he is factually correct.

7) Lucien Bouchard calls Quebecers lazy. Half of us get off our lazy asses and agree with him in a poll.

6) After Bernier blames high gas prices on the environmentalists and Blackburn blames the softwood crisis on environmentalists, we are waiting with baited breath for Tony Clement to close another hospital and blame Elizabeth May…

5) Irwin Cotler is gonna wanna sleep on Michael Ignatieff’s couch for a little while after Cotler supported Ignatieff over his own wife…oy, Irwin is the doghouse now…

4) “You do not know of what you speak about.” “Do you know how difficult it is to set targets?” Apparently not as difficult as forming a proper sentence in English. Yes I know Stephane “THAT IS UNFAIR!”

3) Jason Cherniak complaining about bias…I didn’t make that up…I know…PRICELESS

2) Andre Boisclair made it to the National Assembly this week…in unrelated news…remind the pages to check their text messages…

1) Still in search for something that shrinks faster than the Ontario economy under the NDP government, Bob Rae jumps naked into a freezing lake…

October 15, 2006

Israeli Soldier Admits War Crimes and the Use of Chemical Weapons in Lebanon

1800 cluster bombs, and chemical weapons that cause severe burns and sometimes death, by their own soldier's admission...what does the Israeli army have to say now?

As a believer in human rights, I suggest to Jason Cherniak and Michelle Oliel, that they take a look at this and direct their criticism to the appropriate place.

Here is the Haaretz article I am referring to...Is Stephen Harper calling Haaretz Anti-Israel?

Congratulations to Meron Rappaport for being an excellent journalist and to Haaretz for being a newspaper unafraid to report a controversial issue, a shame that we cannot have a real debate about this issue here in Canada.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/761781.html

IDF commander: We fired more than a million cluster bombs in Lebanon

"What we did was insane and monstrous, we covered entire towns in cluster bombs," the head of an IDF rocket unit in Lebanon said regarding the use of cluster bombs and phosphorous shells during the war.

Quoting his battalion commander, the rocket unit head stated that the IDF fired around 1,800 cluster bombs, containing over 1.2 million cluster bomblets.

In addition, soldiers in IDF artillery units testified that the army used phosphorous shells during the war, widely forbidden by international law. According to their claims, the vast majority of said explosive ordinance was fired in the final 10 days of the war.

The rocket unit commander stated that Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) platforms were heavily used in spite of the fact that they were known to be highly inaccurate.


MLRS is a track or tire carried mobile rocket launching platform, capable of firing a very high volume of mostly unguided munitions. The basic rocket fired by the platform is unguided and imprecise, with a range of about 32 kilometers. The rockets are designed to burst into sub-munitions at a planned altitude in order to blanket enemy army and personnel on the ground with smaller explosive rounds.


The use of such weaponry is controversial mainly due to its inaccuracy and ability to wreak great havoc against indeterminate targets over large areas of territory, with a margin of error of as much as 1,200 meters from the intended target to the area hit.

The cluster rounds which don't detonate on impact, believed by the United Nations to be around 40% of those fired by the IDF in Lebanon, remain on the ground as unexploded munitions, effectively littering the landscape with thousands of land mines which will continue to claim victims long after the war has ended.

Because of their high level of failure to detonate, it is believed that there are around 500,000 unexploded munitions on the ground in Lebanon. To date 12 Lebanese civilians have been killed by these mines since the end of the war.

According to the commander, in order to compensate for the inaccuracy of the rockets and the inability to strike individual targets precisely, units would "flood" the battlefield with munitions, accounting for the littered and explosive landscape of post-war Lebanon.

When his reserve duty came to a close, the commander in question sent a letter to Defense Minister Amir Peretz outlining the use of cluster munitions, a letter which has remained unanswered.

'Excessive injury and unnecessary suffering'It has come to light that IDF soldiers fired phosphorous rounds in order to cause fires in Lebanon. An artillery commander has admitted to seeing trucks loaded with phosphorous rounds on their way to artillery crews in the north of Israel.


A direct hit from a phosphorous shell typically causes severe burns and a slow, painful death.
International law forbids the use of weapons that cause "excessive injury and unnecessary suffering", and many experts are of the opinion that phosphorous rounds fall directly in that category.


The International Red Cross has determined that international law forbids the use of phosphorous and other types of flammable rounds against personnel, both civilian and military.
IDF: No violation of international lawIn response, the IDF Spokesman's Office stated that "International law does not include a sweeping prohibition of the use of cluster bombs. The convention on conventional weaponry does not declare a prohibition on [phosphorous weapons], rather, on principles regulating the use of such weapons.


"For understandable operational reasons, the IDF does not respond to [accounts of] details of weaponry in its possession.

"The IDF makes use only of methods and weaponry which are permissible under international law. Artillery fire in general, including MLRS fire, were used in response solely to firing on the state of Israel."

The Defense Minister's office said it had not received messages regarding cluster bomb fire.

October 13, 2006

An Education Policy of Respect…Michael Ignatieff Better Tread Carefully

Although my tenure as VP Policy is coming to an end soon, the one issue which I worked on most was education. As education has its own section in the constitution, this is pretty clear provincial jurisdiction.

As a youth wing in Quebec, we have been pretty clear with what we want. We want the federal government to create a dedicated education transfer, as it was before 1995. We want funding to the provinces restored. That is a fiscal imbalance issue. The costs of provincial services are rising and the federal government has the money.

In the 50s and 60s it was called co-operative federalism. From that we got a Pension Plan and Medicare…not bad. If the provinces stuck to their hard lines then, we would have neither. Back then there was a federalism of respect.

The term “education standards” sends a shiver down my spine. How will any federal government pass this without another interprovincial war? How do we prevent Canadian flags from getting taken down? Here candidates must tread very carefully. I wasn’t all that pleased when I heard that Michael Ignatieff was proposing a plan on education, but I took a look and suggest you take one too.

Michael proposes something similar to the Canada Health Act in making three core principles in what is called the Access Agenda. I will call them the three pillars of education: Equality, Affordability, and Mobility.

Equality meaning everyone will get the same quality of education whether they are in a city or region. Equality of opportunity should apply to the quality of the university education itself.

Affordability ensuring no student is left behind. IF YOU HAVE THE GRADES, YOU GET TO GO. That is the best possible way to ensure true equality of opportunity in Canada. To that extent, the federal government will provide an option to everyone based on their level of income. All Canadians will have access to a certain extent. Since this is not directly spending money on the education itself, it is indeed constitutional.
(barely)

Mobility means that all Canadians should be able to move freely within the provinces and get educated. We must remove inter-provincial barriers to education make credits transferable. If the federal government can do it for workers, it can also do it for students.

BECAUSE the education transfer was promised, I have no reason to see why provinces would be against such a plan other than sheer stubbornness. Once the imbalance has been addressed, the provinces can no longer blame the federal government for the problems of students.

I can proudly take this plan to my constituents in the Youth Wing in Quebec and to the student lobbies and say this plan is achievable, attainable, and constitutional. The ball is now in the court of the provinces. We need co-operative federalism to make a comeback!

October 12, 2006

Turkey’s EU Hopes Bleak After French Genocide Bill Clears Lower House

While we were discussing some other hoo-ha yesterday, the French Lower House passed a bill making it illegal to deny the existence of a previous genocide in history. The law, which would have legal consequences, which can include up to a year in jail, caused a ripple effect across the EU.

It would now be illegal to deny the Armenian genocide in France, or the holocaust for that matter. This is a problem as applicant country Turkey still does not think it did anything wrong.

“They were in the way” is not an excuse for killing civilians. If the Turkish government ever wants to enter the European Union, they should come to terms with that sometime in the near future.

While historical truths may cause pain, they are also good in order to bury the hatchet and heal the wounds. If the law is signed by Jacques Chirac and Catherine Colonna, you can pretty much kiss Turkey’s EU future goodbye.

The Reality of War

In war innocent people die.

Hezbollah targets civilians and must be, and always has been, condemned.

In the Qana attack/tragedy, innocent people died. Was it intentional on the government of Israel to kill civilians? That is for a court to decide.

If the Israeli army did not know civilians were in that position, it is not a war crime.

If they did not care because it was a Hezbollah position anyway, I would say it is a war crime.

I would suggest there is NO evidence to show Israeli forces knowingly knew civilians were in the area.

Did the Allies commit a War Crime when they firebombed Dresden or when the Americans nuked Hiroshima? The good guys sometimes play dirty too. War makes people do very bad things sometimes. Sometimes war must be fought with war. Our goal as humanitarians is to try and preserve the rights of all people. We try not to break the rules ourselves in doing so. Humanity is not perfect. We should keep that in mind at the start.

Here is Ignatieff’s response to the hoo-ha that has ensued after Sunday’s assertion.

I am using his words as they describe what he feels much better that I can say it myself.

For Lebanese and Jewish Canadians, the recent conflict between Israel and Hezbollah was traumatic, as we watched innocent civilians on all sides being killed in Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories.

I have lived in Israel, taught in Israel, and have been a lifelong friend of Israel. If my friendship on occasion involves criticism, it is because this is the truest form of friendship.

Israelis live under the constant threat posed by Hezbollah, and its backers Iran and Syria, who continue to wrongly deny Israel’s right to exist. The denial of Israel’s right to exist is unconscionable and must stop. This summer, Hezbollah tried to lure Israel into a regional conflict to cause Israel to lose its remaining international support. It did not succeed.

As I’ve previously stated, I strongly supported Israel’s right to respond to Hezbollah’s provocation and to send the terrorist militia a very clear message that kidnapping soldiers and firing rockets on Israel will never be tolerated. Canada cannot be equivocal on this issue. In a conflict between a terrorist militia and a democratic state, Canada must always side with the democratic state. Israel has an unequivocal right to defend itself against unprovoked attacks and the international community must support that right.

There are injustices in every war where civilians are brought into the centre of the conflict, and the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah was no different. I believe that Qana was a terrible human tragedy where innocent civilians died in a conflict that saw unjustified tragedies on all sides. For this reason, I have always been a vocal supporter for a peaceful solution to tensions in the Middle East. There are no further military solutions in this region.

The only long term solution is a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine, with an independent Lebanon, in which Israel can live peacefully without threat of attack from its neighbours, who must recognize Israel’s right to exist.

I deeply regret the decision that Susan Kadis has made today, and I continue to consider her a close friend and respected colleague.

October 10, 2006

A Politician Not Like the Others...from the Journal de Montreal

A Politician Not Like the Others
Le Journal de Montréal
2006.10.09
Marco Fortier

Weird. Now that the Leadership Race of the Liberal Party is headed for the final stretch, the candidates should have all their knives out and begin publicly tearing their opponents to shreds, but the front-runner refuses to play the game.

Michael Ignatieff only has good things to say about everybody, including his opponents Bob Rae, Stephane Dion and Gerard Kennedy, who are talking behind the scenes to block his ascension to the helm of the party. Ignatieff supporters may be right : this 59-year old intellectual is a politician not like the others.

It’s true that there is a little refreshing quality to Michael Ignatieff. Women find him charming. Men find him intelligent. His opponents describe him as an arrogant aristocrat in his ivory tower.

His strategists, they, are discovering he is all that and more.

« I am not in politics to say boring things. I am in politics to say what I think » affirms Michael Ignatieff, seated for breakfast behind his glass of orange juice at the restaurant of the chic Queen Elizabeth Hotel in downtown Montreal.

You bet he says what he thinks. And he thinks a lot. It is worth listening to : Michael Ignatieff could not only become Liberal Party Leader, but perhaps Prime Minister of Canada.

Not long ago, the Liberals didn’t even dare to dream of forming the next government.

But to see the Conservatives of Stephen Harper, who are firing in all directions ever since the Lebanon crisis, the next election issue becomes more unclear by the day.

It adds some spice in a leadership race that was quite boring up until this point.


ON THE HEELS OF TRUDEAU

Michael Ignatieff dares venture off into issues that no candidate would even place their little toe. He is challenging ideas in the fight against climate change, the Afghan War, and the recognition of the « specificity » of Quebec.

Perhaps it is because the unique road he took that Ignatieff can bring this new look to politics. Without the arrogance of his childhood idol, Pierre Trudeau – who he served voluntarily as a student in 1968 – Michael Ignatieff shares with Trudeau an intellectual past that arrives suddenly into the political arena.


Son of a Canadian diplomat of Russian origin George Ignatieff, a young Michael learned an excellent French in the living rooms of the bourgeoisie in Toronto, Sarajevo, Paris, …and on the farm of his uncle Vladimir near Richmond, in teh Eastern Townships, where he spent his summers as a child.

A prolific author translated into 19 languages, Harvard Professor, Michael Ignatieff can talk to you about former French television star Bernard Pivot, of the work of Robert Lepage « where actors played in the mud, in London », or of the works of Bach with a touch of Glenn Gould.

But do not ask him to state his favorite Quebec author, as he doesnt know any, other than Lepage and Michel Tremblay.

COURAGEOUS IDEAS

Being against the current does not prevent Michael Ignatieff from committing to insert the « specificity of Quebec » into the Canadian Constitution. His friends in Toronto treat him like a nut, but Michael claims acorss all of Canada that Quebec forms a « nation ».

Ignatieff also surprised many Liberals in unequivocally supporting Canada’s mission in Afghanistan. His firm position in favor of an armed fight against the Taliban dates back to September 1997.

Reporting for the American publication, The New Yorker, Ignatieff witnessed first-hand the takeover of Kabul by Taliban forces, these religious extremists who preach a fanatical Islam. He remains profoundly affected by what he has seen.

« The Taliban ran after women in the streets in order to beat them with sticks. I saw women take refuge by the hundreds in ICRC offices. (International Committee of the Red Cross) From that moment on, I took a position in support of these women », he recounts with emotion.

Let’s bet that his opponents are waiting for him eagerly in anticipation of the final Leaders’ Debate, which will take place this Sunday in Toronto.

Micahel Ignatieff had better ask everyone to « keep their elbows down », to take a hockey metaphor, he would also state that it is rough playing in the corners…

What I am Thankful For

An-Dee-Nee

Massimo, my Director of Communications, (pictured with cell phone) said my name yesterday.


Thank you Massimo!

October 9, 2006

Michael Survives Tout le Monde en Parle !!! (Antonio Hacks Alex’s Post for you Anglos)

WOW ! Michael Ignatieff était, ce soir, à Tout le Monde en Parle. Quelle performance.


Michael Ignatieff was on the hit show Tout le Monde en Parle tonight and boy did he deliver.

The show is a cultural phenomenon in Quebec, there to provoke the water cooler discussion, which for this week, will be delayed one day by the Thanksgiving Lunch discussion.

It has an audience of about 2 million people, mostly from Quebec, and has been known to destroy some politicians in the past. Ask Bernard Patry, Gerard Kennedy’s chief Quebec organizer who said in the Toronto Star "There remains only one place Patry won't send Kennedy now: the Sunday TV talk show Tout le monde en parle. Only, said Patry, "because they kill everyone." Jean Charest barely survived when he made it onto the show.

They treat federalists differently. Andre Boisclair had an easy ride. At some points in that show, you expected Dany Turcotte to just crawl under the table and unzip the guy’s pants but I digress…


Pour vous qui n'êtes pas du Québec, Tout Le Monde en Parle (TLMP) est l'émission que tous les leaders politiques craignent, surtout les fédéralistes. Jean Charest a longuement hésité avant de s'y présenter. Il s'était alors bien débrouillé mais l'entrevue avait été corsée.Michael a livré une performance hors de l'ordinaire. Il a démontré une excellente maîtrise des dossiers mais surtout une bonne connaisance du Québec.

L'entrevue Québec 101 était difficile pour quelqu'un qui n'a pas vécu au Québec. Michael s'en est sorti avec un score parfait. Pour ce qui est des banlieues de Montréal, je suppose que Michael a confondu "banlieues" et "bouroughs" qui veut dire arrondissement car Outremont fait maintenant partie de Montréal. Il a par contre nommé Saint-Hubert et Laval au début de l'émission.L'émission de ce soir, avec la performance de Michael, me confirme une fois de plus que j'ai fait le bon choix, que Michael Ignatieff est le prochain chef du Parti Libéral du Canada et LE PROCHAIN PREMIER MINISTRE DU CANADA.

They gave Michael a pretty hard time, asking him to name streets in Montreal, suburbs (he said Outremont and Westmount LOLZ) former Quebec Premiers, and favorite hockey team in a Quebec 101 Quiz.

Then, they went after him...Afghanistan, Iraq, the Constitution, No Sleep over Canaa, would he, as Prime Minister, interfere in a referendum (he said yes). Michael answered all questions with grace and poise. It could have gotten ugly, but it did not.

Overall, he got out of the show alive and with a good performance to boot.

Tomorrow Quebec talks about Michael Ignatieff, because Guy A. Lepage said so.

THREE THUMBS UP !


Alex and Antonio

Following Michael on the show was Alex Plante’s Twin. The best part about the segment is that he plays a bully on a TV show which I SWEAR TO GOD is Alex in person…to the point where Alex should sue…Cheers to LE GROS CAVE!

October 6, 2006

Harper is Right: Death Toll is the Cost of Leadership

Stephen Harper made a few waves when he said that the price Canada was paying in Afghanistan was the price of leadership. If we want these soldiers’ lives to mean anything, we will not let the Taliban destroy what we have helped build.

Nobody knows this more than the soldiers presently risking their lives in Afghanistan. What do they see over there? They see soldiers rebuilding roads, connecting with the local population, getting young women into school for the first time in their lives.

What they do not see are the opportunistic poll readers like Joke Layton and the NDP, who supported this mission until they saw they would gain votes by opposing it.

As a country that prides itself on our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, how can we, in good conscience, let these rights be taken away from other human beings when we have already promised them we would help?

Does it make some Liberals hypocritical to attack Stephen Harper for eliminating Status of Women Canada but also advocate the withdrawal of our soldiers knowing full well what will happen to status of women in Afghanistan once Canadian troops leave?

RECOUNT ABITIBI EEYOU!!!!

That one will surely take a while!

If the voter is confused by the ballot, dont penalize the party membership by making less people go to convention....this is bad democracy guys BAD!

October 5, 2006

Gerard Kennedy’s Quebec Problem: a View FROM Quebec....UPDATED!

Gerard Kennedy has implied that his poor Quebec showing is the fault of the Quebec establishment. Organizers have one thing in mind, and that is winning. When they had to choose their horse at the beginning, they wanted a guy who could win.

I was a big critic of Gerard’s French at first. His people marketed him as bilingual, and that was their biggest mistake. If they would have said that he had some work to do but was a quick study, the Kennedy people might have gained more traction.

When he came to Drummondville and first spoke to the Liberal Party in Quebec, most of us did not know who this guy was except that he was bilingual, young, and inspiring. His bad French prevented some of Gerard’s charisma from coming through. Right away, most of us knew Kennedy was already sunk.

Gerard needs to spend more time in the province. His ideas are very much in line with many Quebecers as well. His compassion and his experience in the social economy are very deeply appreciated here. I told Calgary Grit this in an email. Gerard's ideas in Quebec would have broad appeal. However, for Quebecers to take him seriously, he must earn their respect, and working on his French will go a long way in accomplishing that.

Quebec did write off Gerard Kennedy. However, there is nothing he has done since which would tell me that the organizers would not make the same decision again. A vacation will not impress the Quebec people or the ‘establishment’ that Gerard seeks to appeal to. Gerard has potential to gain massive support in Quebec. However, more time spent in Quebec would help Gerard understand why Quebecers fight so hard for recognition, and listen to them plead their case.

Then there is the constitutional position, where polls say that a vast majority agree with Michael Ignatieff that Quebec should be recognized as a nation. I know Gerard’s position because Braeden Caley won’t let me forget it. However, the Quebec position of Kennedy shows a deep lack of understanding of the province of Quebec. Quebecers do not seek to be treated better than everybody else, they have been egalitarians since Confederation. Quebecers want someone who recognizes their historical place within Canada.

I spoke to one my friends who follows politics closely. He told me he never saw Gerard in Quebec once. When I told him Gerard spent three weeks this summer in Quebec, he was shocked. I'll be honest, it came off as a stunt. Gerard is back, and I hope to get a chance to sit down with him. The campaign has already shown interest. This man needs to see Quebec and more importantly, Quebec needs to see him.

From what GK supporters tell me, because I have never heard Gerard on the subject and I do plan on asking him, Gerard does not see Quebec as a nation like Michael, Bob or Stephane do, they tell me Gerard is against the Meech Lake Accord and does not even believe Quebecers to be distinct. If this is the case, it is no wonder he gets 2% in Quebec, as that position is no longer tenable in Quebec, even for the wimps who recognize Quebec is a nation but deny them official recognition like Bob Rae, Stephane Dion and Stephen Harper. Taking Trudeau's position is still honourable, and I commend Gerard for it. I hope to discuss it with Gerard soon.

So yes, Gerard, maybe the organizers did decide early, but based on what we have seen since, there is no way you have convinced anyone you can actually win here in Quebec, and THAT, is what will get you the support you need. Come on down, let Quebecers see you. You represent a generational renewal in the party and you are an asset this party cannot afford to underuse. Your French is good enough now, time to let Quebecers see the Gerard Kennedy they were first promised.

Note: The version has changed, a draft was put up by accident.


Update: As I had put earlier in the comments, Gerard's position has changed since I first heard him opine regarding the Quebec "nation". He also says that calling Quebec a nation is not a concession towards Quebec. Interesting point, as there is a simple segue to "you-know-who's" position...DISCUSS

October 4, 2006

Where's Waldo ?

Pablo Rodiguez's Private Member's Bill (C-288) was voted on today. Pablo tabled a bill to make the government respect our previous engagement on Kyoto.

Curiously, the candidate of the environment in the present leadership race, the Hon. Stéphane Dion, was missing. He didn't show up for the vote.

How comitted is Mr. Dion to the environment ? I am sure David Suzuki would have shown up to coerce the Conservative government to respect previous engagements on environment.

Dion worked so hard on COP 11 to make Canada respect Kyoto targets and he drops the ball like that.

Alex

October 3, 2006

The Next Step: Avoiding Hypocrisy

Ever have anyone lie to your face and not even flinch?

Two days after calling my candidate the worst possible thing for the Liberal Party, one person emailed me today saying Ignatieff could be the rallying force to renew the party.

Do they really mean it? I highly doubt it.

Will those who went across Ontario this weekend reminding everyone of Rae days suddenly forget Rae was ever Premier?

Will the Quebeckers who knocked Gerard’s French suddenly speak of a massive improvement since Super Weekend?

The past 6 months have been tiring and relentless. Between myself Marc and Alex, I think we all slept in to an average of like 3PM Monday. That brings me to the subject of Alex’s post yesterday which he removed later in the day.

I helped him write it so I am guilty by association here. Over the past few months, some of the youth on the Rae team doubted our ability to do anything. They used phrases like “you are gonna unemployed by the end of this race” and called us “sissies who couldn’t organize.”

Did I feel ambivalent watching their ENTIRE organization lose? Put yourself in our shoes. We felt DAMN good about it. It made our victory as delegates THAT much sweeter. They said we couldn’t do it. We did it. They did not. Take it for what it is worth.

I realized not all the Rae people were that bad. When Philippe Legault, a friend of mine, asked me about it, he simply said what I ever did to him. Phil is no angel, but he was right, our displaced anger was taken out on more than a few people. I immediately asked Alex to take down the post. Me and Phil spoke for an hour. No little post would get in the way of our friendship. We talked about the rest of the race and how it would unfold.

One thing that kept coming up was how people would put on a front that all the other candidates were as fantastic as fresh roses, compared to being rotten tomatoes just this past weekend.

Will I forget some people in the Dion camp accusing me of fraud to gain votes at Concordia? Not anytime soon and that is a promise. We were livid, so we got even and won McGill too.

So instead of “playing nice” and lying our way through the next two months, let’s all admit we made mistakes the six months and do the best thing possible to get this party united, and just stop lying to each other.

October 2, 2006

Congratulations Grit Heart

6 delegates in Mount Royal, you even beat Irwin Cotler in his own riding. I guess I didn’t know how much trouble I was in after all.

Raymond Garneau, un homme d'une grande classe

J'ai rencontré Raymond Garneau pour la première fois cet été avant la clôture des ventes de cartes de membre. Le directeur de campagne m'avait envoyé renouveler la carte de membre de M. Garneau.

Après avoir tourné en rond pour trouver une place de stationnement, je suis arrivé dans l'imposant bâtiment de l'Industrielle Alliance sur la rue McGill College. L'ascenseur s'est arrêté dans un des étages supérieurs et une dame a appelé M. Garneau à la réception. Je l'ai suivi dans son bureau, sans extravagance mais avec une vue superbe sur Montréal. Très surprenant pour celui qui a été PDG puis Président du Conseil d'une des plus grandes compagnies d'assurance au Canada.

J'étais assis devant un monument de la politique québécoise. Il a été ministre des Finances sous Bourassa puis lieutenant québécois de John Turner. Il fut également Président de ce qu'est maintenant la Banque Laurentienne, après sa défaite au leadership du PLQ aux mains de Claude Ryan et avant son élection dans Ahunstic au fédéral.

Pendant plus d'une trentaine de minutes, nous avons discuté politique. L'homme m'a paru extrêmement facile d'approche, affable et d'une intelligence et expérience hors du commun. M. Garneau venait de passer 30 minutes de son précieux temps à ce qui n'était en vérité qu'un jeune passionné de politique qui faisait le commissionnaire.

Mardi, j'ai eu la chance de lui reparler. Nous discutions de la "slate" que l'équipe Ignatieff doit présenter dans son comté, Westmount-Ville-Marie. Comme nous avions un surplus de délégués, nous devions décider qui nous devions prioriser. On donne une chance aux bénévoles qui nous ont beaucoup aidé pendant la campagne. Un des problèmes était que deux femmes aînées tentaient de se faire élire : Victoria Alward et Pauline Garneau, la femme de Raymond.

M. Garneau m'a demandé qui était Victoria Alward. Je lui ai répondu que c'était une dame, prof d'allemand au cégep, qui a passé son été au local de campagne à faire des téléphones. Sans même une seule hésitation, il a voulu donner priorité à Mme Alward. Je fus touché, mais pas surpris, par sa gentillesse et sa reconnaissance du travail d'une bénévole.

Quand j'ai appelé Victoria, que nous surnommons Vicki, je lui ai expliqué que nous avions un problème, que deux femmes briguaient la candidature de femme aînée soit elle-même et Mme Garneau, Vicki m'a tout de suite demandé de prioriser Mme Garneau. Je lui ai dit que M. Garneau avait refusé et tenait à ce qu'elle soit priorisée, elle fut réellement touchée par le geste. C'était la récompense pour des mois de travail au bureau de campagne. Cette journée, Vicki faisait ses appels de la maison car elle avait une mauvaise fièvre. Pour résumer son était d'esprit, Vicki m'a dit "C'est le plus beau compliment qu'on m'a fait depuis la dernière fois que je me suis mariée". J'ai éclaté de rire.

Bravo M. Garneau. Nous avons besoin de plus de gentlemen comme vous en politique, un milieu où beaucoup de gens sont prêts à faire un croc-en-jambe à n'importe qui s'ils en tirent un bénéfice.

Alex

October 1, 2006

Elected at Concordia!

Concordia has elected its former president for Michael Ignatieff!

Time to wait for more results...

Dion is fading fast...Marissen will need to help him for him to catch up. He will get some help in Quebec as well.

Expect Kennedy to edge Bob Rae for 2nd place.

Quebec War Stories (Dispatches from the Field)

Mentally drained at 10PM, the warriors marched into the office. Pat Fiore, our chief organizer for Quebec, and Marc Belanger, our lawyer, returned to Ignatieff HQ in Montreal to a roaring applause from the youth team plus Yves Lemire and Denis Coderre. The tired smiles on their faces summed up our day because today, was one for the ages.

A contingent of 6 of us were dispatched to “perm” (Party Headquarters) to assist with the counting of the postal vote. In Quebec, this is a big day. 26 ridings would be decided in one short afternoon.

After the gong show in Saint Leonard the night before, where old Italian people waltzed up to the table and said in Italian, “yeah I have to vote for these guys” with a slate in their hands, today was going to be a little bit more normal, at least I hoped it would.

The counting started…

First up, Bas Richelieu Nicolet Becancour, a place where our organizer Mr. Fiore, said we were “gonna get smacked”. The count went on. By the end, a three way tie emerged between Dion Rae and Ignatieff. After counting the vote again, one Ignatieff was in the Dion pile, and 2 votes separated the top 3 candidates. We got the extra delegate. The day started off well.

3 feet away, my fate was being decided. After a great showing, Ignatieff elected 5 in Abitibi-Temiscamingue, one of which was me. I am officially a Michael Ignatieff delegate to convention. A great feeling of joy swept over me. I will help choose the party’s next leader and the country’s next Prime Minister. I was the first of our youth gang to win election.

I ended up counting 6 ridings this afternoon, some close fights, and some complete sweeps (Montcalm 13 delegates, Manicouagan 11 delegates, St Bruno St Hubert 11 delegates, 12 delegates in Joliette)

While we were deciding one third of the province’s fate, Alex Plante was in his home riding of Brossard La Priarie, taking on Jacques Saada, Chair of the Rae campaign in what was supposed to be Rae’s Fort Knox of Brossard La Prairie. After some hoo-ha of our own in Brossard, the former mayor, Paul Leduc, was at the door shaking hands encouraging supporters to vote Ignatieff. Even Dion got some votes out. In the end, Fort Knox had succumbed, surrendering 5 delegates, 3 to us, 2 to Dion.

My fellow warrior in battle, Alex, had won his delegate spot. The enthusiasm in his voice and the jolt in his energy only serve to inspire the team more. Tomorrow we go back into battle to elect Andrew in Westmount, Marc-Andre in Vaudreuil, Andrea and Gosia in Papineau, and most importantly, Stefan in NDG. (by the way I also have Concordia and Marsha Akman to deal with tomorrow!!!)

It’s 2:30 now and I am exhausted. Ignatieff ends Saturday with 774 delegates. I cannot wait to get up tomorrow morning, the battlefield awaits!

Even Greater News !!!

Alexandre Plante has been elected as an Ignatieff delegate in the riding of Brossard La Prairie, riding of the Rae Chair for Quebec. That along with two other Ignatieff delegates and two Dion delegates.

Alex