Monday, April 30, 2007

High-profile attacks on Baird continue

Attacks on the Baird plan continue to eminate from high-profile critics. This time: the head of the body at the UN that oversees Kyoto questions the use of intensity targets, and chagning the base year:

Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, questioned the assertion that with tough enough intensity targets, an absolute reduction would occur.

“You can still see a reduction in absolute terms, but you can't guarantee how much the reduction is going to be in absolute terms,” Mr. de Boer said in an interview Monday from his office in Bonn, Germany.

“If you have a very stringent relative reduction target, but your economy grows by 30 per cent, then your emissions could still end up going up.”

Mr. de Boer suggested there is some confusion over how Canada intends to live up to the Kyoto Protocol, which it signed in 1997. To date, no official has said the government is withdrawing from the treaty but the Kyoto targets have been abandoned.

The Conservatives have said meeting Kyoto targets would have meant disaster for the Canadian economy.

“It's interesting that while it would appear that the government has set itself a new target with a new base year, which of course it's free to do, that target is less ambitious than the commitment it has under the Kyoto Protocol,” Mr. de Boer said.

“The question is how this new commitment or the new policy objective relates to the international commitment or international undertaking Canada has made with the Kyoto Protocol, and also how it fits into the debate about longer term action that's currently under way.”

Another United Nations official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there's a sense of alarm in the agency that Canada's reluctance to try to meet the Kyoto targets will encourage other countries to shirk the treaty.

“Canada is perceived to be a role model for the United States. If Canada throws up its hands and says there's no point, it has a negative rub off for the U.S.,” the official said.

The Conservatives have no one to blame but themselves. They've had numerous rewrites, numerous chances to put forth a strong green plan with teeth, and they keep disappointing.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Text of Byers' letter to the ICC

From the Tyee, here is the text of the letter that Michael Byers and William A. Schabas sent to the International Criminal Court. Here is an excerpt:

April 25, 2007

Mr. Luis Moreno-Ocampo
International Criminal Court
Maanweg, 174
2516 AB, The Hague
The Netherlands
Tyee's new Blog Roller series

Dear Sir,

Re. War crimes and the transfer of detainees from Canadian custody in Afghanistan

We write to draw your attention to possible war crimes committed with respect to the transfer of detainees from Canadian custody in Afghanistan. In particular, we request that you open a preliminary examination under Article 15 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to determine whether there are reasonable bases to investigate Mr. Gordon O'Connor, the Canadian Minister of National Defence, and General Rick Hillier, the Canadian Chief of the Defence Staff.

Specifically, we are concerned that Mr. O'Connor and General Hillier have:

1. Chosen to allow detainees to be transferred to the custody of Afghan authorities despite an apparent risk of torture and other forms of abuse;

2. Chosen not to take reasonable and readily apparent steps to protect detainees against torture and other forms of abuse -- for instance, by seeking a renegotiation of the December 2005 Canada-Afghanistan Detainee Transfer Arrangement to bring it into line with pre-existing Denmark-Afghanistan, UK-Afghanistan and Netherlands-Afghanistan agreements, and now, following credible reports of the torture of transferred detainees, by ceasing any further transfers.

As a result, we are concerned that Mr. O'Connor and General Hillier might wilfully be placing detainees at well-documented risk of torture, cruel treatment and outrages upon personal dignity. If so, they would appear to be violating Articles 8 and 25 (and perhaps Article 7) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).1

Any such violations would clearly fall within the jurisdiction of the ICC, since Canada has ratified the Rome Statute, Mr. O'Connor and General Hillier are Canadian citizens, and the possible offences in question were committed after the coming into force of the Statute (as well as Canada's ratification of it).

The letter proceeds from here at some length to explore in detail relevant facts and relevant law. Read the rest of the letter.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Al Gore: Baird plan a "fraud"

Al Gore severely criticized the Baird plan:

The noted environmentalist was presenting his Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth in Toronto at a consumer environmental show, with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and environmentalist David Suzuki in attendance.

Mr. Gore praised Mr. Suzuki for confronting Environment Minister John Baird on Friday, saying he saw the two exchange words on TV.

When Mr. Baird told Mr. Suzuki the Conservatives were going further than any other government in Canadian history, Mr. Suzuki said it wasn't enough.

The Conservative government strategy focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality. But the plan failed to spell out precisely what many of its regulations will look like.

"In my opinion, it is a complete and total fraud," Mr. Gore said. "It is designed to mislead the Canadian people."

Read the whole article.


Courtesy of Scott, clips of Gore's speech here and here.

Mmm, I smell an election in the offing.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Links to reaction to the Baird plan

Short-sighted Canada Fails with New Climate Policy -- DeSmogBlog
Tory climate plan fails Canadians -- Toronto Star editorial
New targets, without a serious emissions policy, are so much hot air -- Jeffrey Simpson
Will opposition force an election? -- Chantal Hebert
Baird keeps it simple -- Susan Riley
Thinking green but not acting -- Ottawa Citizen editorial
Al Gore meets 'Suzuki Nation' -- Bob Hepburn

Suzuki confronts Baird

Canadian hero to many (including myself) David Suzuki confronted John Baird at a exhibition showcasing eco-friendly alternatives. Barid has refused to meet with him over the plan. Suzuki went to tell him what he thought, and to "please come and see us."

Baird had just kicked off Toronto's consumer Green Living Show when he was approached by David Suzuki, who let the minister know what he thought of the government's plan.

"It's a disappointment, John," Suzuki said as he beat a path to the minister.

"You know what you promised was a long way from what you delivered."

Baird countered that "this is more action than any government in Canadian history has ever taken."

But Suzuki was not impressed, saying that it's not enough.

"He promised all kinds of great things and it's been big disappointment to see what it is. It's all smoke and mirrors and what he's going to do is allow industry to continue to increase their emissions."

Suzuki later told CBC News the Conservatives' new plan is an embarrassment because it falls short of what is needed and what Canadians want.

"What the government is trying to do is give the illusion of movement by talking about reducing the intensity, and hard targets," he said.

"The reality is it's really a cover for allowing industry to increase its pollution, so it's not seriously addressing the emissions problem.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

ICC asked to investigate Afghan detainee affair

On the Afghan detainee front, which I am following, we have this:

Two human-rights professors have asked the International Criminal Court in The Hague to open an investigation into what they claim are "possible war crimes" by Canadian Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor and General Rick Hillier, Chief of the Defence Staff, over Canada's transfer of detainees in Afghanistan.

Michael Byers of the University of British Columbia and William Schabas, director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights in Galway, make the allegations in a 14-page letter to the court's chief prosecutor in The Hague.

The professors allege that Mr. O'Connor and Gen. Hillier agreed to the transfer of prisoners to Afghan authorities "despite an apparent risk of torture and other forms of abuse" and have allowed the threats to continue by not renegotiating the agreement with Afghanistan on prisoner transfers.

Reaction to the Baird plan

The dilly dallying on the part of the Harper on the envirnment continues. After trying again and again to put forward a plan that Canadians can accept, they still can't get it right. That must be some powerful influence the fossil fuel industry has on that government.


Keith Stewart of World Wildlife Fund Canada said there are flexibility mechanisms built into Kyoto that would allow Canada to meet the protocol, but the government is walking away from them.

"I don't think another decade of delay is anything that Canadians want, and I think the government's on the wrong side of the science and they are going to be on the wrong side of history."

John Bennett of ClimateForChange, a new Canadian environmental group, said the plan doesn't go far enough to deal with global warming.

"We were told this was their green plan, but what do we get? A few vague numbers, no hard targets … I am really shocked. I thought this plan would be tougher than this.

"They're not trying to deal with climate change."

Although the government has said the new target would reduce emissions by 20 per cent below current levels by 2020, environmentalists have also said that these targets fall short of the post-Kyoto efforts that would be expected from a developed country, in order to establish an effective international agreement to stop catastrophic effects of climate change.

Based on studies by European governments, the Pembina Institute and the David Suzuki Foundation have estimated Canada must go well beyond the Conservative government’s targets in order to prevent global temperature increases of more than two degrees celsius, a level that scientists have identified as a dangerous tipping point.

Julia Langer of the World Wildlife Fund disputed how the government calculated its targets, by not using Kyoto's baseline of 1990 levels.

"They way they have put it -- 20 per cent reduction by 2020 - they're counting according to a baseline that nobody uses," she told CTV Newsnet.

If you calculate that based on the internationally recognized baseline, we're still going to be above 1990 levels in 2020. That's nowhere near our Kyoto target."

She also added that asking industry for an 18 per cent reduction in emission by 2010 is also misleading.

"That's an emission intensity figure. So in other words, they're going to ask industry to reduce their intensity -- not their emissions - of how fast they pollute. So they'll slow that down, and it will be business as usual."
And, the most devastating critique of the plan, from Elizabeth May of the Green Party:

It’s official: Canada has turned its back on the world

Statement by Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada

Today, Environment Minister John Baird has made it official. Any remaining doubt has been removed. Canada is officially abandoning any attempt to reach its legally binding targets under the Kyoto Protocol. Canada, therefore, will be in violation of international law and will stand as the only nation, of more than 160 countries around the world that have signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol, to have reneged on its commitments.

This is not “Canada turning the corner”, as Mr. Baird described it. This is Canada turning its back on the world.

The new target announced by Mr. Baird is a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions against today’s levels by 2020. Thus Mr. Baird has set a course that will take Canada to 11% above our Kyoto target by 2020. We will be unable to reach our mandated Kyoto target until well into the 2020s. In contrast, the EU has adopted a target of 20% reductions below 1990 levels by 2020. The similarity of the numbers and the alarming variation of base year appear to be designed to confuse Canadians about the nature of the Harper-Baird plan. It is a plan for increased climate risk.

In fact, the changed base year makes Mr. Baird’s announced target even weaker than that announced by his predecessor, Rona Ambrose, last fall. She announced 45-65% reductions below 2003 levels by 2050. Mr. Baird has changed the base year to 2006, when emissions were higher.

Furthermore, he is jeopardizing Canada's interests. If, as the Minister claims, Canada remains committed to the "Kyoto process" (but not the legally binding targets), then, at a minimum, we should strive to get as close as possible to our targets to avoid penalties under the agreement. For every tonne of emissions missed in the first commitment period, 2008-2012, there is a 30% added cut for every tonne in the next period, post-2012. Any responsible government would recognize the risk, economically and to our international reputation, of deliberately ignoring the target.

The overriding concern is that the Harper government has no intention of remaining within the Kyoto process and, if still in power in 2008, it will formally commence withdrawal (2008 being the first year within the agreement in which formal withdrawal is allowed). This would avoid the penalties and put Canada in the pariah corner, at the same time as the world expects the US to join the process.

The small improvements from the government's previous positions are in the area of trading. Mr. Baird has accepted some form of domestic carbon trading, but not international. He has also confirmed that Canada will participate in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) under Kyoto. Minister Ambrose contradicted herself a number of times on the government’s attitude to the CDM and then launched a full scale attack on CDM using false information. Mr. Baird has done the right thing in allowing for CDM measures to be pursued.

But with the wrong target in place, it makes little difference.

Read the Baird speech

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Foreign affairs censorship

To follow up on yesterday's post, I point to this Globe and Mail article which talks of a report from Foreign Affairs Canada about Afghanistan in 2006, in which sections touching on the human rights situation there have been blacked out.

The Foreign Affairs report, titled Afghanistan-2006; Good Governance, Democratic Development and Human Rights, was marked "CEO" for Canadian Eyes Only. It seems to remove any last vestige of doubt that the senior officials and ministers knew that torture and abuse were rife in Afghan jails.

The report leaves untouched many paragraphs such as those beginning "one positive development" or "there are some bright spots."

But heavy dark blocks obliterate sentences such as "the overall human rights situation in Afghanistan deteriorated in 2006."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The torture of Afghan detainees and the Harper non-response

In response to Graeme Smith's piece in yesterdays Globe and Mail about 30 interviews with Afghan detainees in which horrifying stories of torture were revealed to Canadians, two university professors, Michael Byers of the Liu Institute for Global Issues at UBC, and Amir Attaran of the University of Ottawa, have said that Canada must terminate the agreement with Afghanistan on prisoner exchanges now.

The door is open for Canadian troops to be prosecuted as war criminals if enemy prisoners have indeed been tortured in Afghan jails, said Michael Byers and Amir Attaran.

They say the only solution is for Harper’s government to scrap the current agreement with the Afghan government and for Canada to build its own prisoner detention facility overseas where captured fighters can be treated humanely.

“There is no room for ambiguity. We are talking about one of the most fundamental rules of international law: the prohibition on torture and the prohibition on complicity in torture,” said Byers.

Where “there is a serious risk of torture, we cannot transfer to the Afghan authorities. That’s it. They have shown, if this report is correct, that they cannot be trusted to uphold fundamental rules.”

A couple of items need responding to.

My favourite neanderthal, Stockwell Day, had this to say.

Now we've captured them – and yes, these people we've captured want nothing more to do then to kill you [Afghanis] and your children – and we are asking you to treat them humanely. That is a radical thought for a lot of people in that part of the world. But folks, it is working.

The detainees may or may not have that mindset. We don't even know that they all are Taliban. A fair judicial process will hopefully determine that. And yes, of course they should be treated humanely. Even those who are guilty are expected to, let alone those who haven't been charged. One, it is against international law to conduct torture. Two, it is wrong. Three, it is well known that torture doesn't work. Four, any connection to torture stains our international reputation even more than it already has been, and will serve to further increase hostility toward us in Afghanistan.

To those who say that there already is an Afghan monitoring group, I give you this article in the Globe in which we find that

The watchdog agency Canada is relying on to prevent abuse of detainees in Afghan custody says it can't do the job properly because it has been barred from access to the notorious detention cells of the intelligence service.

Despite assurances that any abuse would be reported, repeated in the House of Commons by Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor yesterday, the regional head of investigations for the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission conceded in a recent interview that his staff are being prevented from visiting detainees in the National Directorate of Security's detention cells in Kandahar.

"We have an agreement with the Canadians, but we can't monitor these people," said Amir Mohammed Ansari, chief investigator for AIHRC in Kandahar. "Legally, we have permission to visit prisoners inside the NDS prison. But they don't allow it."

This is a story to follow, folks. How the Harper government responds to this issue will speak volumes of its attitude toward torture and toward human rights in general.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

From Thoughts on Climate Change: effective rebuttal of Baird

Thanks to Thoughts on Climate Change for an effective rebuttal of John Baird's claims about the effect of Kyoto on the economy. "Thoughts" rightly points out that there are three prongs to the rebuttal.
-the economic cost of not taking action on climate change.
-the economic benefits of emissions trading
-the economic benefits of pursuing development of green technologies.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Harperites snub Charter celebration

Courtesy Scott's DiaTribes, we find the Harper Conservatives ignoring the 25th anniversary celebration of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the single document that most defines Canada according to Canadians. Bev Oda and Vic Toews were invited to speak, but surprise surprise, declined to attend. Yeah, I can just see Vic (make him a lifer at 10) Toews heaping praise on the Charter.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

From Le Revue Gauche: The Straussian sympathies of the Calgary School

Please read this well-researched article by Le Revue Gauche on the Straussian tendencies of the Calgary School, of which Stephen Harper was an understudy. I consider this article to be of such relevance that I have placed it in the sidebar under Key Documents.

Here are a couple of excerpts I consider particularly poignant:

As with Strauss the Calgary School is well versed in Marxism and critiques of Marxism as we can see in the publications of its major proponent Barry Cooper. Cooper admire's Leo Strauss, Carl Schmitt and Eric Voegelin and see's them as the political alternative to Marxism, and ironically these political philosophers are far more statist than Marx was.

These are the arguments of the Cold War, which while now over, remains the bugaboo of the right. One does not invest fifty years of constructing anti-liberal, anti-socialists, anti-secular, anti-humanist arguments to abandon them with the mere collapse of the Berlin wall. Today the arguments used against socialism and liberalism by Strauss, Voegelin and Schmitt are now used in day to day editorials and arguments from the Right.

While publically declaring themselves libertarians of the right, they are anything but, again the Straussian deception and lies that cover their realpolitik. They want Plato's Philosopher King, the supreme ruler, and they see him sanctioned by the politics of social conservative Christianity.

Despite the Conservative five priorities, their economic or environmental policies, Harpers regime comes down to two key right wing elements; Militarism and increasing the power of the Police and the Security State

And it is clear that the Calgary School influenced the Conservatives Environmental policy more so than Green Conservative Calgarians; Preston Manning and Joe Clark, since Barry Cooper is a founder of the climate change denier group the Friends of Science (sic). Science has nothing to do with it they are Friends of the Oil Patch. And in typical Straussian fashion all the Conservatives discussions with stakeholders on the environment were held in secret

See also Eugene's article Post Modern Conservatives, which I have also put under Key Documents.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

NDP, Libs, Greens should try to avoid vote-splitting

First, I will say that I do still have reservations about one aspect of this: Elizabeth May running in Central Nova against McKay. It will be very difficult for her to win. Not impossible, but very difficult.

That said, May is right that the opposition parties should try to work together to prevent the re-election of the Harper government. This should not be about partisanship in any sense.

May and Dion reached an agreement, but she tried to reach out to the NDP as well, seeking talks with Tom Axworthy and Stephen Lewis about a three-way agreement.

I have a ton of love and respect for Stephen Lewis. He is, along with David Suzuki, one of the two greatest Canadians alive today, in my opinion. He has opened my eyes about battling disease and poverty in Africa, and even brought me to the point of thinking about going there. The man is a saint. I think May approached the right person. However, I wish he had been more receptive to at least some dialogue.

Also, what is up with Layton not even taking May's phone calls. I would have thought it would be customary for party leaders to take each other's calls.

It would be naive to deny that it is a risky move on the part of both May and Dion. It's hard to predict exactly what the political implications could be, but as Red Tory says:

it’s forced many Liberals and Greens to “think outside the box” as the hackneyed expression goes. Generally speaking that’s usually a good thing in politics, where incurious habits of mind can frequently lead to complacency.

And as Saskboy says:

We are at a cross roads in Canadian politics, and I hope the leaders in the NDP, Jack Layton included, take this chance to move Canada away from the Harper Conservatives, and back to a socially progressive and accountable government. May has an agreement from the Dion Liberals to make meaningful electoral reforms when he goes to power, which is something the NDP have been desiring for many years (PR, not Dion in power). Clearly there is common ground to be found among the Liberals, NDP, and Greens even though the partisans inside of us don’t want to admit our respective parties can’t do everything themselves.

If thinking outside the box leads to a healther, more cooperative political system in the future, maybe even one which uses a PR electoral system, as opposed to the highly partisan one we have now, I'll take it.

There is a lot more I could say on this, but I'll close with a couple of blogs that say it well.

From The Galloping Beaver:

There's a kind of denial at work in the partisan debate about this agreement.

Does partisanship blind people to understanding that what the planet faces is going to require everyone cooperating and collaborating with everyone else? Apparently so.

And last but not least, from Politique Vert:

There Are No Political Parties On A Dead Planet.

UPDATE: I also like Scott's Anybody But Harper proposal.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Daniel Paillé affair

Here's a Toronto Star editorial on the Daniel Paillé affair. He, of course, is the separatist hired by the Harper Conservatives to investigate his arch-enemies from the 1995 referendum.

He served in former Quebec premier Jacques Parizeau's Parti Québécois cabinet from 1994 to 1996, and played his part in the referendum to break up Canada. He still harbours warm thoughts for his mentor. Just last year, in a speech honouring Parizeau, Paillé recalled a "very appropriate" challenge Parizeau made to separatists after they lost the referendum, to "turn over every stone" to strengthen their case for secession. This week, however, he declined to say if he still shares the dream.

Given Paillé's background, what confidence can Canadians have in his even-handedness in judging whether Canada's federal leaders behaved properly from 1990 to 2003 when they surveyed attitudes in Quebec and elsewhere? Poll spending rose to $24 million during this period, which covers the last few years of Conservative rule by Brian Mulroney and Kim Campbell, and a decade under Liberals Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin.

Is there much evidence of Ottawa wrongdoing to worry about?

In 2003, Auditor General Sheila Fraser found that "for the most part" Ottawa acted "in a transparent manner and with adequate controls." She found only "a small number of troubling cases" involving polling. Even so, the Tories remain eager to probe beyond the sponsorship scandal in which cash was improperly funnelled to Liberal-friendly ad firms.

Clearly, Harper feels the time is right to dig deeper, hoping to shame the Liberals even as they try to put the sponsorship scandal behind them. For his part, Paillé bristles at any suggestion he has been hired to dig for dirt.

But in 1995, the PQ complained bitterly that the Liberals cheated them of a referendum victory, partly by outspending them. Given this bad blood, the Liberals understandably place little faith in Paillé's pledge to operate in a "professional" spirit and to deliver an even-handed report.

This, of course, is not to suggest that the Liberal reign was stainless. It certainly was not. However, this blog is not about the Liberals, it is about the Harper Conservatives. The purpose of the post is essentially to show that Harper is capable of political opportunism just as blatant and decision-making just as ubious as anyone he criticizes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Leading scientist says Baird is misinformed. reports that Gordon McBean, head of the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, says that John Baird is misinformed on the urgency of the climate change issue, and the relevance of atmospheric scinece over the long term in responding to crises arising from climate change.

Canadian scientists would like to increase their understanding of climate change, but the federal government has been scaling back support for climate science and adaptation programs.

Baird suggested last week there's little time left for more reports and studies in the wake of the UN report.

"One of the biggest findings (of the UN report) is that these (impacts) can be mitigated, can be reduced, can be delayed by action to reduce greenhouse gases, and that's got to be the first, the second, and the third priority," Baird said in an interview with CanWest News Service.

"At some point, it's sort of like the planet's on fire, we've got to throw water on it. We don't need to research it, we need to act."

McBean said Monday "that is a sadly misinformed argument and I'd be happy to set him straight."

He adds other senior scientists would also welcome a meeting with Baird, who he says has steered clear of the climate research community since becoming minister in January.

McBean says Baird seems to be taking a short-term view of a long-term problem: "The only question he seems to be asking is: 'Do we have enough science to justify reducing emissions' ...and the science been clear on that for 15 years."

Emissions reductions are needed and long overdue, says McBean.

The key question Baird doesn't seem to be asking, McBean says, is whether there is enough science to address climate change in Canada for the rest of this century in terms of adaptation and emissions reductions. The answer, says McBean, is no.

McBean says that "repeated requests to meet with the minister have been declined. The foundation has committed all its research money and cannot take on any new projects."

Yes, this is one scientist, but he is a leading scientist, and the chair of an organization representing climate scientists. There is no comparison to industry rent-a-scientists like Tim Ball (for more on Ball, click here and then type "tim ball" into the search engine. Or, just click here).

Monday, April 09, 2007

PCers want McKay's head.

I just pulled this from the Green Party site via Politique Vert.

The following will appear on a daily progressive conservative forum that reaches about 5000 readers:


I am certain that all former and loyal Progressive Conservatives, and all current Progressive Canadians, were very pleased to hear that the Leader of the Green Party, Elizabeth May, will be seeking to remove Peter MacKay from federal politics. Further, I am certain that we all wish her luck. But this may not be enough.

Let us all put our heads together and see if we cannot help. We were a tremendous force in fighting against MacKay during the hostile takeover of our Party by the Alliance. We may have lost the battle, but we can still win the war.

What about public protests? Newspaper ads? Radio ads? Flyers? Anything else we can do to get the last laugh on the man who betrayed us all?

Ideas please.

If we stand with Elizabeth May, will can knock off Peter MacKay.


Brad Thomson

Just switched to Haloscan

Oops. I just switched to Haloscan, and seem to have lost the comments that have been made previously. I chose to make this move because it gives me more editorial control. Anway, I will get in touch with Haloscan to see if there is a way I can ertrive the comments.

While I'm here, I should note that this a non-partisan forum dedicated to stopping Stephen Harper. Commenters, please to try to stick to the topic of the blog post. For example, if a post suggests that Harper goes negative because he has nothing positive to say, don't start going all Harper on me and attacking other politicians. Besides being amusingly ironic, it is irrelevant to the topic of the post.

Andre Coyne on Stephen Harper

Here are a couple of tidbits from Andrew Coyne.

First is from his his blog, a post entitled Welcome, Tory partisans!

I never cease to marvel at the blind partisanship of some of the commenters on this site. There doesn't seem to be anything Harper and Co. could do that could shake your faith: no budget so profligate, no promise so broken, no principle so abandoned, no pandering so overt, no Quebec strategy so failed, no rhetoric so inflammatory. But I had not realized quite how far you were willing to go until now.

Read more

The second is from his National Post column, and it's called Harper has learned well.

So we are left to conclude that it does not matter to him whether anyone believes him or not. And if it does not matter to him, this must be because he believes it does not matter to anyone else. At the very least, he must have calculated, there is no political price to be paid for telling the public obvious untruths. It may even be that we prefer it. That is the rational implication, and he is nothing if not rational. What is more, he is probably right.

He concludes:

It is a lesson that Mr. Harper appears to have absorbed. The Emerson and Fortier appointments were early harbingers, the two free-spending budgets and the "nation" resolution further signs that nothing Mr. Harper had said on these matters throughout his career should be taken at face value. And if these could be excused as the inevitable adjustments in the face of political reality, or even as signs of maturity, what are we to make of the pledge not to tax income trusts, or to cap equalization payments?

Read the whole article.

You see, fervent ideology is not the only problem with Harper. I fully acknowledge that he is smart, and by that I mean he is devious. He is clearly not above compromising on clearly held political or economic principles in order to pander to the electorate. He is also clearly not above playing with the truth where it suits him. He as well is clearly not above slandering the opposition, instead of taking the high road, which one would think would be the prime ministerial thing to do. Why behave like a bully instead of letting your record speak for itself? Desperation.

What all this means, among other things, is that the electorate is not getting an accurate picture of Harper and what a majority government in all likelihood would bring.

More to come.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Harper's attack ads understandable

This is priceless. It's a few days old, and I should have posted in then. It's Dion's reaction the the Harper Conservative's most recent attack ads.

You can't blame the Conservative party for running negative ads. They wanted to do a commercial about all the good things they've done . . . but there wasn't enough material for a 30-second spot.

Negotiations with the Taliban?

Right on, Galloping Beaver, and Buckdog.
on Karzai conceding that there have been talks with the Taliban. It's what I think has to happen at some point if there is to be peace in Afghanistan. Perhaps the Harper government doesn't think it's as naive as they have suggested. In the words of Galloping Beaver:

Was the Canadian government aware that Karzai is talking with the Taliban? If so, why the disingenuous stance suggesting negotiation is not possible? If not, why are Canadian troops being used to support a policy we are not aware of nor in agreement with?

And a question for Peter MacKay. Who's naive now, dimwit?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

To the NDP, Liberals: Stop bickering

We have at this time the ideolgically the most right-wing federal government in Canadian history, and that is with it only having a minority government. It is currently threatening to capture a majority in the next federal election, which seems imminent.

Despite this, it seems that the two main Anglo-Canadian opposition parties have been resorting to petty bickering, posturing to appear to be THE party that is doing the most in response to Conservative policy, and attacking each other for their respective approaches.

I see this among some Progressive Bloggers as well. There are some PBers like Catnip, and Scott, I think, who have basically similar viewpoints to mine, that being a progressive nowadays doesn't necessarily mean aligning yourself with one opposition party and attacking the other, but rather standing up for progressive values generically. I see too many others, however, some Dippers and Libloggers but not all, who are using talking points vis a vis the other party that are quite frankly becoming very tired, as opposed to keeping their eyes on the prize. Anyone can dig up isolated quotes that can paint the other guy in an unflattering light.

In my opinion as a non-partisan progressive, there is room for criticism of both the Liberals and the NDP. However, I would also say that a lot what I've heard is unjustified, and clearly aimed at attaining some kind of political high ground. Ah well, some may say that's just the nature of the parliamentary system.

Except that there is too much at stake. Stephen Harper must be stopped. Stop the partisan bikering.