Tag Archives: Stephen Harper

Alberta Votes 2012: The lesser of two evils, is still evil.

I came across this condescending and narrow-minded video campaign a few days ago. Albertans vote on Monday so I thought I would commented on it before the polls open in the province of the Great Horned Owl.

I have cited Pundit’s Guide’s article Why the Conservatives Love the “Strategic” Voting Sites in “A conversation between Micah Goldberg & Joseph Uranowski on: Progressive Cooperation” and “After a jump to the left, the Liberal Party needs to take a step to the right” but it applies here (especially since I have read online over and over again that Danielle Smith is a Stephen Harper clone):

  • The sites’ entire raison d’être validates the concept that people who voted for the Conservative Party in 2008 can’t be appealed to further to change their vote now, and thus discourages people from even trying. This is a fundamentally defeatist proposition for the sites’ founders to take, one that also underlies the decision by the Liberal Party not to bother making appeals in that marketplace, but to turn its attention towards other competitors instead. It also implicitly discourages people from voting at all where things seem “hopeless” based on previous election results, which feeds precisely into a vote suppression strategy for the Conservatives, and in fact does at least part of that suppression for them.
  • The sites’ obsession with who can win has virtually eliminated issue-based politics from either election coverage or debate at the riding level. This is a perfect state of affairs for a party such as the Conservatives which is consciously trying to move the ideological centre of the country a few inches to the right.

In their fantastic Tory Or Wildrose? campaign, the Alberta Liberals point out how there are regressive elements in both conservative political parties in Alberta. So not only does this strategic voting campaign in Alberta have the potential to benefit Danielle Smith and the WRP, but the party it aims to help out isn’t all that progressive either. Progressives need to work during and between elections to change hearts and minds, not come out of the woodwork at the end of a campaign with only fear mongering as a strategy.

One final thought: Yes, elements within the Wild Rose Alliance are regressive and have made unacceptable, bigoted remarks. This doesn’t mean that we should necessarily paint the whole party with that brush. Progressives need to focus on demanding accountability from Danielle Smith and making sure those remarks are denounced, and candidates are held accountable. The WRP’s economic and environmental policies are quite regressive. But when you make the whole party out as a caricature their base will rally and larger, equally relevent issues get ignored, become white noise or are diluted.

“This Hour Has 22 Minutes” did a great job satirizing the similarities between the PCs/WRP and their leaders here:

Vigilantes and Mercenaries: The Harper Government and the Abdication of Responsibility

With the revelation that Minister Peter MacKay failed to ask many of the obvious/necessary questions when working on the F-35 procurement, the subject of basic ministerial/government responsibility has been weighing heavily on my mind as of late.

When I listen to/discuss politics with my friends who are more libertarian-leaning conservatives, they argue that the government should only really be performing two functions: national defense and policing. Recently, the Government of Canada, with Stephen Harper as PM, has abdicated its responsibility on both of these functions.

National Defense:

You probably expect me to go on at length about the F-35 boondoggle or the fact that in the 2012 budget Harper/Flaherty includes cuts to defense and the Royal Military College (which has “Royal” in its name yet still got the axe, which shocked everyone.) Though, I am equally incensed over each of these, the real abdication of responsibility comes from the government’s decision to hire the mercenary group XE (formerly Blackwater) to train Canadian troops. When asked by Liberal MPs and NDP critic Christine Moore in the HOC about the $2.4 million contract with XE/Blackwater, the minister of defense accused the opposition of (you don’t really need to finish reading this sentence because you know what is coming) not supporting our troops. However, instead of investing in military training infrastructure here in Canada, the Harper government is paying a group of thugs controversial organization who have been accused of killing civilians and many more terrible things. If one of the basic functions of government is national defense, what message is the government sending when they outsource that function to a group with suspect morals?

Policing and Vigilantism:

Back in February Justice Minister Rob Nicholson actually told Canadians to “fire warning shots” during a HOC committee hearing. This was denounced by members of the press but was not surprising considering the Conservative Party’s “gut feeling” based approach to crime policy. However, more recently the Conservatives (with a somewhat willing accomplice in the NDP) have been encouraging vigilante activist through legislate means. The citizen’s arrest legislation put forward by the Conservatives/NDP is allegedly meant to “clarify” what is currently on the books. However, this kind of legislation sets a dangerous precedent as it seems to condone violence by the person doing the citizen’s arresting. Recently, Stephen Harper actually called Naveen Polapady, a Toronto restaurateur who allegedly assaulted a man who he believed was robbing him. It is tempting to immediately side with Mr. Polapady but we have to think about the larger implications of the use of disproportionate force in performing a citizen’s arrest. The PM and his cabinet should not be encouraging behaviour that blurs the line of legitimate citizen’s arrest and vigilantism. In the context of the Trayvon Martin case in the United States, we should all be wary of laws that encourage citizens to use excessive force without thinking and without consequence.

Conclusion:

Members of the Conservative government (including the PM) have been promoting policies that erode the legitimacy of the institutions that are vital to Canada’s peace, order and good government. Governing isn’t about doing what “feels right.” It is about doing what is right.

Rob Anders should resign from the Veterans Affairs Committee

Who is Rob Anders?

A few weeks ago Jim Lowther and David MacLeod of VETS (Veterans Emergency Transition Services) Canada gave a presentation to the Veterans Affairs Committee. According to the two men, Mr. Anders arrived to the meeting late and then feel asleep during the briefing. When Lowther and MacLeod mention this to the press Anders lashed out at them saying they were “NDP hacks” and also calling them “Pro-Vladimir Putin.” When he did apologize, he did it on a Friday evening and his apology was rejected by the two veterans. He then apologized in the House of Commons but only for the words he called them (it’s not very relevant, but I believe both men are members of the Conservative Party) and not for falling asleep.

On CBC’s “Power and Politics” on March 5th, Liberal MP Sean Casey, who sits on Veterans Affairs with Mr. Anders, said that Rob Anders falls asleep at almost 1/3 of Veteran Affairs committee meetings. Mr. Casey went on to say that when Mr. Anders does contribute he is quite substantive. Conservative MP Eva Adams said that this was a “smear” and that she only hears accusations against Rob Anders from “partisans.”

It is entirely possibly that Rob Anders suffers from sleep apnea, which causes him to fall asleep out of exhaustion. However, if this is the case, Mr. Anders should seek treatment and explain himself to the Canadian people and the veterans whom he insulted by sleeping during their presentation (which he has yet to admit doing.)

Rob Anders’ first reaction to two veterans taking offensive from his rude behaviour was for him to smear them in the press. This is unacceptable. Mr. Anders should resign or be forced to resign from the Veterans Affairs committee as soon as possible.

One again, here is the VETS Canada website: http://vetscanada.org/ Please visit, find out more about them and donate if possible.

…and Boisvenu makes three.

First, Julian Fantino writes about his love of the death penalty in his book.

Then PM Harper talks about his support for the government having the ability to kill Canadians in an interview last year.

On Wednesday it was reported that Conservative Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu suggested that prisoners should be given a rope so they can kill themselves. He initially apologized but then on Thursday he decided to double down and claim that his idea is getting a lot of support. This seems to negate his claim (one that Mr. Fantino and PM Harper have also made) that he doesn’t want to re-open the death penalty debate in Canada.

I realize that I will never be able to understand the pain and grief that Senator Boisvenu and his family have been through. However, his remarks illustrate exactly why the death penalty is a policy of vengeance and why we abolished it in the first place. Senator Boisvenu justified his macabre idea by saying that it would save money. This was what I found most repugnant about Boisvenu’s statements. The idea that the government should encourage Canadian citizens to kill themselves so that taxpayers can save money is reprehensible.

From now on when someone in the Harper government ends a statement with “I don’t want to start a debate” we should all pay extra close attention to their previous statement.

Introducing the Liberal Queer Caucus

The Liberal Party has a lot of work to do this weekend as Liberals from across the country schlep to Ottawa for our biennial convention. This morning we are all reminded of what exactly is at stake as it appears that Stephen Harper is engaging dog-whistle politics over marriage-equality.

A few weeks ago a newly-formed group, the Liberal Queer Caucus, caught my eye. The Liberal Party is the party of same-sex marriage but we have been pushed aside, in perception, as the progressive party of LGBTQ rights by the NDP.

I contacted the LQC’s Director of Communications, Christopher Ide, with some question about the Liberal Queer Caucus and he promptly responded:

—————————————————————————————–

The Liberal Queer Caucus (LQC) is a newly formed grassroots group made up of Liberal supporters who self‐identify as belonging to the LGBTQ community. Long‐term, we are committed to:

1. representing the interests and values of queers to the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC);
2. encouraging the fair participation of queers at all levels within the LPC; and,
3. communicating Liberal values to queer Canadians.

More immediately, we’re dedicated to identifying and connecting with queer Liberals interested in working with the LQC to execute our mandate. We’d like to grow the caucus to include members from every region, coast to coast. The Liberal Biennial Convention will be a great opportunity for LQC to do just that.

In the spirit or renewal and as newly elected members to the executive of the Toronto‐Danforth Federal Liberal Association, Brad Lister and I began brainstorming around ways in which our riding association could reconnect with the queer community. Brad enlisted the help of several queers from various ridings: Penny‐Lane Beames, Kelly Foote, Phillipe Murphy‐Rheaume, and Jerry Jarosinski to name a few. After two successful friend‐raisers in December, LQC supporters made their wishes quite clear: the movement needed to grow beyond the Toronto‐
Danforth riding. Liberal supporters nationwide are now joining the cause.

Since our launch, the LQC has hosted three well supported socials and a fourth is scheduled to take place during the Biennial Convention on Saturday January 14th from 8:00PM to 10:00PM (and onward) at the Lookout Bar in Ottawa (41 York Street, Byward Market).

Post convention, the LQC is hosting a participatory Coffee House at The 519 Church Street Community Centre in Toronto (519 Church Street) on Sunday January 29th from 2:30PM to 4:30PM. Not another talking heads meeting, queers will begin working to fulfil our short‐term and long‐term commitments. Participants will be able to create and manage their own agenda in parallel working sessions. Potential working sessions may include: articulating the Liberal Party’s past and present support for the LGBTQ community, communicating the Conservatives’ antiqueer agenda, developing internal (e.g., fair representation of queers in the House of Commons and Senate) and external policy positions, LQC governance and infrastructure, etc.

More personally, I was a disaffected Liberal who had let my membership lapse years ago. To help rebuild a party whose values I share, I renewed my membership not long after the 2011 federal election. The queer caucus has provided me with an opportunity to actively engage with the party, like‐minded queers and queer allies. Together, we will create an inspired caucus that will deliver extraordinary results with regularity.

Sincerely,
Christopher Ide
Director of Communications
Liberal Queer Caucus
liberalqueercaucus@gmail.com | @queercaucus (twitter)

Stephen Harper will ^NOT be balancing the budget.

If you were wondering how the Conservatives were planning on filling that $11 billion hole in their platform? Apparently, they are planning on using Stephen Harper and Jim Flaherty’s massive cojones. Just 9 days after Canada’s 41st federal election PM Harper has announced that he wont be balancing the budget by 2014-15. The Globe reports: ” The revised 2011 budget that the government will present next month will not show a surplus by 2014-15 as promised in black and white in the Conservative campaign platform, even though the government insists it still intends to deliver on the election promise.”

You may remember that every promise the Conservatives made in their sparse platform was followed by fine print saying “* after the budget is balanced in 2015.”  It turns out that this was followed by an even smaller “** Offer not valid in Canada.”

Canadians agree! Bev Oda should resign.

A newly released Angus Ried Poll says:  “58% of respondents believe that Oda should resign from cabinet for her actions, while 12 per cent of respondents believe the International Co-operation Minister has apologized and the matter has been dealt with appropriately. One third of respondents (33%) think Oda was instructed by the Prime Minister to alter the document, while one-in-four (24%) think she acted on her own.” It appears that Conservative talking points are ⌃not  working. With a near unanimous call for her resignation from members of the media and the Liberals hammering Harper for his culture of deceit this could be the beginning of a bad narrative for the Prime Minister.

Sign the petition calling for Bev Oda’s resignation and please make sure you send it to your friends/family: http://petition.liberal.ca/bevodamustresign/