Some things just need to be said...
Friday, December 30, 2005
Thats not my description, its Globe and Mail columnist Gloria Galloway's from May 27th, 2005. You can find a copy of the globe article here at ValleySceptic blog
This was discussed by bloggers quite abit in May this year.
Gallowy begins her column... "Christian activists have secured Conservative nominations in clusters of ridings from Vancouver to Halifax -- a political penetration that has occurred even as the party tries to distance itself from hard-line social conservatism."
Lifesite News, a Conservative Christian news service reported on her column this way ...
"Naming the new candidates from several ridings across Canada – including Andrew House in Halifax, Rakesh Khosla in Halifax West, Paul Francis in Sackville-Eastern Shore, Darrel Reid in Richmond, B.C., Cindy Silver in North Vancouver, and Dr. Rondo Thomas in Ajax – Galloway described their successes as a “political penetration” by socially conservative Christians."
Someone not in on the happy side of the penetration and thus with a bit of a sour taste left over had this to say after losing to a social conservative supported by Tristan Emmanuel, one of Canada's leading Evangelical political activists, "The difficulty, from a party perspective, is that it begins to hijack the other agendas that parties have,"Ross Haynes speaking to the Globe and Mail after losing the Conservative nomination in Halifax to one of three "Christian, pro-family people". Haynes added, "Candidates who are running on single issues such as opposition to same-sex marriage "probably can't get elected because they certainly don't represent any mainstream population view."
Darrel Reid is past president of Focus on the Family, Cindy Silver was the executive director of the Christian Legal Fellowship and Dr. Rondo Thomas works for the Canada Christian College which is run by none other than Dr. Charles McVety also a Director of Defend Marriage Coalition.
Tristan Emmanuel who operates a centre called, "Equipping Christians for the Public Square Centre" refused to tell the Globe and Mail how successful his group was in securing nominations. He stated, "(He) is reluctant to say how many adherents have obtained Conservative nominations because he is afraid the news media will portray the campaign as the infiltration of the party by "right-wing fanatics."
But "it's happening everywhere, especially in urban ridings and in Ontario... Even in Toronto we have incredible people from the immigrant community who are stepping up to the plate who are just awesome candidates and sincere Christians."
None of this is new news. We all are aware of the effort by social conservatives to win nominations in the Conservative party. We can add Ron Cannon, the Conservative candidate in Kelowna Lake-Country to the list as well.
Can anyone add to the list? Is there a list anywhere else? I would like to add that I see nothing wrong with social conservatives running for political office. My one worry is that they manage to operate within the secular context of decision making. What it usually does tell me is that they will vote against same-sex marriage, abortion and if they follow the American example, they will also be into cutting welfare, supporting private schools over public and watch out for more private health care.
That scares me...
See article by Derek Richards at Words without Walls and CBC's Canada’s Evangelical movement: political awakening
Canada, Human Rights, Christian Right, Conservative Party of Canada, Stephen Harper
Liberal Mr. Marurizio Bevilacqua (York North): Disclosure for potential financial gains is a serious violation of the supreme authority of Parliament. Let us restore trust in this Parliament and ask this Government and the Prime Minister for the Minister's resignation. (April 27, 1989, Hansard pg 1026)
Liberal Brian Tobin (Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte): Is the Prime Minister suggesting to the people of Canada the potential millions of dollars in private benefit given to a privileged few can be legitimized in the interest of keeping his friend, the Minister of Finance, in the federal Cabinet? Is that what he is telling the people of Canada? [April 27, 1989, Hansard pg 1033]
Liberal Mr. Paul Martin (LaSalle-Émard): "There is only one question before this House. You are bringing this House into disrepute. Why the cover-up?" [May 19, 1989, Hansard pg 1969]
In that case, the Conservatives did not leak anything intentially. That may be the case here.
The Liberals were pretty holy back then and now that a leak appears to have happened under their watch, they refuse to accept the standard demanded of Mulroney and Wilson.
Somehow it smacks of entitlement or we know we didn't do anything wrong or if we did we did not mean too so trust us.
Thats why 75% of the country is so pissed at the Liberals. They may still win the election as the largest party in the commons, but with what honour?
A Progressive Blogger and Liberal blogger has chosen to blame the messenger in a story called CBC News And The ABC's Of Journalism . That's an old game and won't wash here, after all it was the Liberals that demanded Wilson resign, to resign when he himself had done nothing wrong. We don't know if Goodale has done anything wrong yet. What we do know is alot of people made some pretty amazing moves just before the Minister made his announcement.
Its a little sickening now for Paul Martin and the Liberal's to be using Wilson's example of not resigning as support for their Minister of Finance failing to do the right thing.
But would we expect anything other than this response from a tired, old government more interested in ...
Americans have a big mess to clean up and one they will need to get on with. There will be much pain before it is resolved. The Republican party recently upset over the defeat of a measure that would allow drilling in Alaska's parks struck back by killing a measure to provide relief to Americans facing higher than ever heating bills this winter.
Currently in a much needed effort to curb federal spending due to the outrageous costs associated with the invasion of Iraq, Republicans are considering cuts to programs providing health care to citizens. 45 million Americans still have no health care coverage at all and Social Security is in a mess. State and private pension plans are over extended and with GM looking at bankruptcy millions more Americans face loss of or seriously reduced pensions.
Homeland security though bloated with funds is making little headway in achieving its goals due to reluctance to cooperate and or a less than coherent plan. The Patriot Act is waiting for revision and may well be the beginning of America's recovery or its decline...
- Rick Barnes
Casualties of the war in Iraq
My recent trip to America provided me a great deal more insight than I anticipated. All of it filling my head with ideas for future posts here.
The newspaper in Helena (pronounced Hell-en-AH), capital city for the State of Montana commissioned a poll that shows the some 49% of Montana voters feel dissatified or somewhat dissatisfied with George Bush. This state has been Republican for years. Bush can usually count on a warm welcome here. That's changing as the US is mired in the war in Iraq and consequential budget problems at home.
My friend, a solid up standing American middle class citizen asked me what were the casualties of the war in Iraq. It was easy to quickly reply with numbers of American war dead, the lose of respect internationally, the tens of thousands of dead Iraqi citizens. He acknowledged these facts but said the casualties were much higher at home.
How many Americans still have no health care? How many are going to be able to count on Social Security? How many Americans continue to lose their jobs so Wal-Mart can pay less for the product to be outsourced to China?
How many Local and State projects are on hold or cancelled because the federal government programs are being scrapped or tapped out?
The list goes on and gets quite frightening. The crumbling infrastructure, schools, highways, water works, sewage systems, power grids and health care will cost over 1.6 trillion dollars to address according to a report release earlier in 2005. A few years ago a report stated that fifty percent of America's bridges and overpasses were falling apart due to a lack of proper maitenance and repair. There simply is not enough money to do the upkeep. Do any of you see more money for these needed repairs coming with deficits hitting all time highs? Yesterday news breaks that an elevated highway in Pennsylvania collapsed.
The disaster in New Orleans and all along the gulf coast could have been significantly reduced if the government had heeded reports to do repairs on the levees holding the water back. The repairs were estimated in the five to ten billion dollar range. Just how much has been spent todate since the unrepaired levees failed during Hurricane Katrina. Now not only will the federal government be forced to pay for the damage in the tens of billions of dollars but have to add fifteen to twenty billion more to ensure the levees are up to holding back the water.
Who in disaster planning failed to understand that the oil refineries and the port of New Orleans handled twenty five percent of US oil imports? Didn't they know what would happen, that lost production would squeeze the whole country and thus affect prices all over the US and the world?
How many Americans can look forward to having access to health care anytime soon? We do know that some as Ted Koppel stated on Meet the Press, have the best Health Care in the world, but sadly he said most Americans don't.
George Bush's war in Iraq has created tens of millions of casualties far from Iraq, in places like Montana City MT, Collville WA, Clearwater FL, all across the country.
The mess is only getting bigger, the undoing of America is almost a certainty. Time is short and many stretchers are going to be needed for the wounded before they can begin righting what George Bush's war has created.
President, Republicans, Bush, Politics, News, Current Affairs, Iraq
This article was first posted on at Queer Thoughts. Its subject tends to lend it self better here.
This election in Canada can be summed up pretty easily.
Most Canadians agree that the Liberals are arrogant, feel they don't deserve to be re-elected and are too comfortable in government. Significant support for them tends to come from people who distrust the Conservatives more.
Most Canadians feel Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party have a hidden agenda though Harper once deemed scary has soften his image a great deal. He is attracting more support due in large part to the Liberal governments ongoing series of scandals and a good amount of duct tape to ensure none of his candidates speaks from the hip.
The NDP are thought to be the best party of social issues and in particular key issues like Health Care and the Environment yet Canadians don't want or trust them to be government. Jack Layton however scores higher than the other leaders on trust and as the guy who would be the most enjoyable to have a beer with.
It would be a safe bet that if Canada had a more Liberal leaning Conservative party, Paul Martin and his gang of entitlement takers would be tossed rather unceremoniously and deservedly so. Harper and his gang, the ruminants of Reform and older conservatives are in the game today because of the Liberal party's blatant and gross misuse of power and privilege. Many people are considering voting Conservative simply because of the Liberals should not be rewarded with another term in office.
Voting for the Conservatives and Stephen Harper will of course, in the end constitute a government of radical change. While we will be satisfied for a short time with the idea that we sure kicked those Liberals and they got what they deserved, will we be happy with Stephen Harper's Foreign Minister Stockwell Day visiting our armed forces in Iraq or joining a US invasion of Iran?
What about Canadian domestic affairs? Are you ready for Vic Toews as Justice Minister? Toews is not only opposed to same-sex marriage and access to abortion, but against many rights held by minority Canadians and feels the Supreme Court is too powerful.
What about Stephen Harper's pledge to hand over more federal money to the provinces with no accountability to Parliament for how it is spent? What about Star Wars? A Harper government will work with the USA to put weapons in space, will work to kill the Kyoto Accord and dismantle many federal programs.
In an article written by Stephen Harper on the Christian Coalition International website he warns Social Conservatives they need to be patient, to accept incremental change otherwise they can give up on electoral success.
Harper of course likely was thinking of other governments like the Ontario Bob Rae government that often brought in change that was too sweeping for most in that province, too quickly, too much. And the change that many liked in Ontario or desired alienated its own support base. Harper is preparing his support base this way ...
" ..., we must realize that real gains are inevitably incremental. This, in my experience, is harder for social conservatives than for economic conservatives. The explicitly moral orientation of social conservatives makes it difficult for many to accept the incremental approach. Yet, in democratic politics, any other approach will certainly fail. ....- but conservatives should be satisfied if the agenda is moving in the right direction, even if slowly."
The Conservative Party is the party of choice for the Christian Right in Canada. The Christian leadership was clearly evident at the the last Conservative party convention. By now we all know that Harper will attempt to reverse gay marriage rights, what about their views on abortion? At the convention the party voted by a narrow margin not to become officially anti-abortion.
The Conservative party is only one convention away from being officially anti-abortion. Encouraged by successes in the United States and financed with millions of dollars from US Christian right wing groups, the Canadian Christian Right is on the march.
High profile American Evangelical political operatives have been providing advice and attending conferences and works shops across the country. Grassroots action meant to bring as many Social Conservative Christians out as possible to vote and to vote for the Conservatives. These people are also being encouraged to join the Conservative Party and assist in selecting candidates that hold strong social conservative views.
The Christian Right has been moderately effective so far and with these well coordinated efforts should be able to send enough delegates to the next Conservative convention to win the abortion issue and advance the Christian Right's religious based agenda.
Ideally this election will deny the Liberals or Conservatives a majority government. They will be tempered by a stronger NDP presence in the house. The NDP showed Canadians they were in Parliament to work while the Conservatives and Liberals spent the days playing silly games one desperate to stay in power and the other desperate to force them out. Again the NDP were moderate in they demands of the Liberal government in return for allowing Parliament to keep working.
Nothing in the current NDP platform suggests they will waver from that moderate place and that spells bad news for the Liberals. The usual Liberal appeal to voters, "vote for us or the other guys might win" won't work this time. Canadians can expect that neither the Liberals or the Conservatives are likely to have a majority government (barring any more Liberal officials saying stupid things on blogs).
The ultimate Canadian compromise should play out in the election. We will elect a right wing party to govern but not without a balance to keep them in check, the NDP will have enough seats to ensure that.
Its no secret to those of you reading my blog often that I will be supporting the NDP and Jack Layton. Thankfully Canadians have that option as well, we can deliver a blow to Liberals and keep the Conservatives in check. What more could we want!
For more on Stephen Harper, the Conservative Party, rights, social conservatives, evangelical and the Christian Right use the Technorati search box in the sidebar here and at Queer Thoughts. Also check out Progressive Bloggers.
tags: Canada, Human Rights, Christian Right, Conservative Party of Canada, Stephen Harper
Thursday, December 29, 2005
We're British, French and Prudish
A poster series in Europe draws fire. Here in the Heartlands we let you be the judge.
For more info and the source of the online posters. George W Bush, Chirac and Queen Elizabeth losing it all for the sake of ART*.
*anti republican truth
Sen. Burns is up for re-election in Montana in 2006. He needs some issues to run on and everyone knows that if you are running and have a dismal record (ask Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin about this) you need an enemy. If one cannot be easily found you make it up. Those are the basic rules of re-election.
Burns in a moment inspired by Ovaltine most likely touched by some good corn whisky decided Canada should be that enemy. And frankly after getting charged a 40% premium on a coffee because of my Canadian dollar while in Missoula MT last week I think he is onto something.
Burns put his plan to work. He was seeking Homeland Security Funds (payola) for his State. This is going to be a hard sell given Montana is miles from any potential terrorist site, except for some Nukes near Great Falls. Look at Montana on a map, it is landlocked. If a dirty bomb were set off in Montana, its likely it would get more cattle than people and be days before the rest of the country heard about it.
Burns plan began to take shape. He invoked the scenes of 9/11. "We've got to remember that the people who first hit us in 9/11 entered this country through Canada".
Whoops, a lie and not a good one at that. You just know its downhill after that. This man is a US Senator, for give me for reminding you. He knew better. It has been shown that not one of those involved in 9/11 came into the United States from Canada. Its a myth begun on CNN and FOX, its use today, perpetrated with deliberate intent to distort the facts and gain advantage by instilling fear in the minds of those legitimately concerned about homeland security.
Burns has lost the "mad" attack on Canadian beef. Now he wants to create another beef with Canada in order to have his re-election enemy. He failed as he was forced to re-track his words almost immediately. Canadian ambassador Frank McKenna in uncharacteristic fashion shot of an angry letter to the Senator and released it to the press.
Mckenna wrote, "Let me assure you that Canada takes matters of domestic and continental security very seriously, (We) share a wide-ranging security partnership on issues such as passports, borders, fighting terrorism, military co-operation overseas, Norad, visa-screening, drug-trafficking, people-smuggling and law-enforcement."
In a sense you can hardly blame Burns for trying, he can't run on the Republican record of the biggest deficits in US History, or the many reports detailing how few advances have been made in protecting the homeland, or the prospect of a never ending war in Iraq or his President's falling numbers in a Red state (now slightly purple) like Montana. Just last year the state elected the first Democrat in years as Governor.
Burns of course will likely be re-elected, that's the way it is in the United States (Kinda like Alberta). Its too bad really, if instead of attacking the imaginary, he focused on providing health care, helped Montana Public Power acquire NorthWestern Energy, found money for schools he may actually have done something than simply take his anointed seat in the Senate.
Senator Burns could even vote against the Patriot Act, as asked by Gov Schweitzer and the Montana Legislature. "Montana values are not neighbors spying on neighbors,"Schweitzer told the Helena Independent Review.
Don't hold your breath, its likely we will see a photo-op of Burns standing at the Canadian border, his pile of bricks, some cement ...
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Five cities have embarked on a crusade to nationalize Northwestern Energy. In Montana!
The five cities have formed a non-profit company, called it Montana Public Power and if that is shocking, then consider that they have the support of the Governor and a bank to do what just doesn't seem right south of the border. We in Canada are use to the idea of Governments owning things, we even grudgingly admit its cheaper and maybe better if they do.
In the wake of the Enron scandal and rising energy costs these folks have come to the understanding that if you remove the profit aspect from energy, you can deliver power cheaper, more reliably, and safer.
Their business case has been approved by Citicorp willing to underwrite the deal. Now NorthWestern Energy is not taking this lying down, they are fighting. Of course they want the best deal for shareholders.
So far MPPI has made an offer that has been refused. The deal worth 2.1 billion US dollars would be financed through bonds, continue to provide energy at the same cost or lower, protect and respect union contracts, improve maitenance of energy delivery lines and reinvest in the companies infrastructure.
Years of experience with private ownership has shown these folks that a public utility would better serve customers and citizens. That is a trend some Canadian governments are bucking. In BC the government is slowly dismantling BC Hydro, starving it of opportunity, splitting its transmission delivery from its power production and contracting out all the administration. They allowed for the sale of Terasen Gas.
Alberta in recent times ran into a series of power shortages and sky rocketing energy costs when they deregulated the industry and the Premier rode in to bail out the companies and his government with energy cheques mailed to citizens. Saskatchewan has maintained its power company and continues to provide cheap reliable power and energy to its citizens as well as a return to taxpayers. Quebec as we all know has a very successful power company with huge export returns.
With the exception of Saskatchewan, why are Canadian provinces looking at selling off our energy production and delivery? Do the people in Montana have it all backwards? While increasing number of American governments are looking at protecting vital national interests like energy, Canadians are working to sell it of the biggest bidder.
I was surprised by the effort being made in Montana by Montana Public Power. I was even happier in that my visit to see friends and the offer to enjoy that great state went beyond the absolute beauty of the location and the friendly people. They are a beacon of hope for many Americans currently under the tyranny of large energy companies. Something Canadians should consider before its too late.
The sleeping giant in Montana is stirring...
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Just so you know, I am not leaving Canada for good. Heading off to see friends and will be back. Of course it wouldn't really be a brain drain if I left!
I will be off line for a week or more here. I am off to the great state of Montana.
Merry Christmas if you celebrate it and if I don't see you before the New Year all the best to you. Will toast you all so should be feeling great!
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
"We started nine months ago with six individuals who needed treatment. Unfortunately one has died. Another one was admitted this week to St. Paul's Hospital because he's becoming progressively ill...
"And to be honest with you we need to re-examine how we do business to ensure that we do the best for the patients at all times and not get tangled on unnecessary bureaucratic delays." - December 21, 2005 Dr. Julio Montaner responding to CBC reporter saying the Health Canada approval process took too long
Health Canada is still taking too long to approve drugs in general, the latest case took them over nine months to approve drugs required on compassinate grounds. It is not unusual for Health Canbada to approve use of drugs for compassinate reason, what is becoming increasingly unacceptable is the delay in making the approvals.
Dr. Julio Montaner of the BC Centre for Excellance in HIV/AIDS, one of the world's leading treatment specialists made an application to use the experimental drugs TMC 114 and TMC 125 as a last hope for six of his patients. These people were not responding to those drugs currently available. The experimental drugs are not ready yet for approval though remain the only hope doctors have in treating the patients.
While Health Canada dithered one of the patients awaiting their approval passed away. One more has been admitted to St.Paul's Hospital and is becoming progressively ill.
Something has to be done with health Canada, they don't have enough staff, reports of requests sitting on desks for months at a time without so much as assigning file numbers, the list goes on.
More people may soon require approval to use these two experimantal drugs or other medications. Is Health Canada going to wait until they die before making them available? No I understand they don't mean to wait for people to die, it is however an effect of their lack of action on these files.
What's the solution, speed up approval processes, hire more qualified staff, and fund Health Canada to do more research. Perhaps if the Liberals kept their promise to double the AIDS Funding strategy, more would be done. The Liberal Health Ministers since Alan Rock have been promising to increase funding for the AIDS strategy. They announced last year increases to be made over five years. Typical in that the funding is needed now and the Liberals are acting like they have done something.
Its time they answered for not only the death of the man waiting to get access to one of the drugs mentioned above, and the thousands currently living with HIV/AIDS. I will leave it to the readers to decide if the Liberals should have to answer for the needless deaths that occur everyday in Canada from HIV/AIDS.
Paul Lewand is the Chair of BC Persons With AIDS Society, he speaks passionately here on the issue and the need to approve these drugs sooner. The link will take you to a CBC interview.
Link to CBC INTERVIEW: The Early Edition's Rick Cluff speaks with B.C. Persons with AIDS Society chair Paul Lewand, who is also waiting for federal approval to be treated with TMC-114 and TMC-125.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Refreshing to find a Conservative in the blogging world that finds some funny stuff at the mother corporation. I wonder if he could lose his status. If Toronto Tory finds out look out. The TO is PO'd with a Flash depicting Harper's lack of "sex appeal". Come on now it's funny, some Conservatives have no sense of humour. Go to Toronto Tory here to see it or do not pass go and go directly to CBC.
Friday, December 16, 2005
Pierre Trudeau said "No to Wage and Price Controls"
Paul Martin said "The GST must be replaced"
Preston Manning said "Reform MP's will end gold plated MP Pensions"
Stephen Harper says "I will not use the "notwithstanding clause" ( gay marriage)
Yes Stephen Harper I really want to believe you, but even if you won't use it, your buddies like Mr. Reid running in Richmond and Cindy Silver in North Vancouver will! Your Focus on the Family doesn't seem to include my family.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
I have added it here for reference.
Stephen Harper as the VP the National Citizens Coalition
Speech delivered to Council for National Policy, a right-wing American think tank.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me begin by giving you a big welcome to Canada. Let's start up with a compliment. You're here from the second greatest nation on earth. But seriously, your country, and particularly your conservative movement, is a light and an inspiration to people in this country and across the world.
Now, having given you a compliment, let me also give you an insult. I was asked to speak about Canadian politics. It may not be true, but it's legendary that if you're like all Americans, you know almost nothing except for your own country. Which makes you probably knowledgeable about one more country than most Canadians.
But in any case, my speech will make that assumption. I'll talk fairly basic stuff. If it seems pedestrian to some of you who do know a lot about Canada, I apologize.
I'm going to look at three things. First of all, just some basic facts about Canada that are relevant to my talk, facts about the country and its political system, its civics. Second, I want to take a look at the party system that's developed in Canada from a conventional left/right, or liberal/conservative perspective. The third thing I'm going to do is look at the political system again, because it can't be looked at in this country simply from the conventional perspective.
First, facts about Canada. Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it. Canadians make no connection between the fact that they are a Northern European welfare state and the fact that we have very low economic growth, a standard of living substantially lower than yours, a massive brain drain of young professionals to your country, and double the unemployment rate of the United States.
In terms of the unemployed, of which we have over a million-and-a-half, don't feel particularly bad for many of these people. They don't feel bad about it themselves, as long as they're receiving generous social assistance and unemployment insurance.
That is beginning to change. There have been some significant changes in our fiscal policies and our social welfare policies in the last three or four years. But nevertheless, they're still very generous compared to your country.
Let me just make a comment on language, which is so important in this country. I want to disabuse you of misimpressions you may have. If you've read any of the official propagandas, you've come over the border and entered a bilingual country. In this particular city, Montreal, you may well get that impression. But this city is extremely atypical of this country.
While it is a French-speaking city -- largely -- it has an enormous English-speaking minority and a large number of what are called ethnics: they who are largely immigrant communities, but who politically and culturally tend to identify with the English community.
This is unusual, because the rest of the province of Quebec is, by and large, almost entirely French-speaking. The English minority present here in Montreal is quite exceptional.
Furthermore, the fact that this province is largely French-speaking, except for Montreal, is quite exceptional with regard to the rest of the country. Outside of Quebec, the total population of francophones, depending on how you measure it, is only three to five per cent of the population. The rest of Canada is English speaking.
Even more important, the French-speaking people outside of Quebec live almost exclusively in the adjacent areas, in northern New Brunswick and in Eastern Ontario.
The rest of Canada is almost entirely English speaking. Where I come from, Western Canada, the population of francophones ranges around one to two per cent in some cases. So it's basically an English-speaking country, just as English-speaking as, I would guess, the northern part of the United States.
But the important point is that Canada is not a bilingual country. It is a country with two languages. And there is a big difference.
As you may know, historically and especially presently, there's been a lot of political tension between these two major language groups, and between Quebec and the rest of Canada.
Let me take a moment for a humorous story. Now, I tell this with some trepidation, knowing that this is a largely Christian organization.
The National Citizens Coalition, by the way, is not. We're on the sort of libertarian side of the conservative spectrum. So I tell this joke with a little bit of trepidation. But nevertheless, this joke works with Canadian audiences of any kind, anywhere in Canada, both official languages, any kind of audience.
It's about a constitutional lawyer who dies and goes to heaven. There, he meets God and gets his questions answered about life. One of his questions is, "God, will this problem between Quebec and the rest of Canada ever be resolved?'' And God thinks very deeply about this, as God is wont to do. God replies, "Yes, but not in my lifetime.''
I'm glad to see you weren't offended by that. I've had the odd religious person who's been offended. I always tell them, "Don't be offended. The joke can't be taken seriously theologically. It is, after all, about a lawyer who goes to heaven.''
In any case. My apologies to Eugene Meyer of the Federalist Society.
Second, the civics, Canada's civics.
On the surface, you can make a comparison between our political system and yours. We have an executive, we have two legislative houses, and we have a Supreme Court.
However, our executive is the Queen, who doesn't live here. Her representative is the Governor General, who is an appointed buddy of the Prime Minister.
Of our two legislative houses, the Senate, our upper house, is appointed, also by the Prime Minister, where he puts buddies, fundraisers and the like. So the Senate also is not very important in our political system.
And we have a Supreme Court, like yours, which, since we put a charter of rights in our constitution in 1982, is becoming increasingly arbitrary and important. It is also appointed by the Prime Minister. Unlike your Supreme Court, we have no ratification process.
So if you sort of remove three of the four elements, what you see is a system of checks and balances which quickly becomes a system that's described as unpaid checks and political imbalances.
What we have is the House of Commons. The House of Commons, the bastion of the Prime Minister's power, the body that selects the Prime Minister, is an elected body. I really emphasize this to you as an American group: It's not like your House of Representatives. Don't make that comparison.
What the House of Commons is really like is the United States electoral college. Imagine if the electoral college which selects your president once every four years were to continue sitting in Washington for the next four years. And imagine its having the same vote on every issue. That is how our political system operates.
In our election last Monday, the Liberal party won a majority of seats. The four opposition parties divided up the rest, with some very, very rough parity.
But the important thing to know is that this is how it will be until the Prime Minister calls the next election. The same majority vote on every issue. So if you ask me, "What's the vote going to be on gun control?'' or on the budget, we know already.
If any member of these political parties votes differently from his party on a particular issue, well, that will be national headline news. It's really hard to believe. If any one member votes differently, it will be national headline news. I voted differently at least once from my party, and it was national headline news. It's a very different system.
Our party system consists today of five parties. There was a remark made yesterday at your youth conference about the fact that parties come and go in Canada every year. This is rather deceptive. I've written considerably on this subject.
We had a two-party system from the founding of our country, in 1867. That two-party system began to break up in the period from 1911 to 1935. Ever since then, five political elements have come and gone. We've always had at least three parties. But even when parties come back, they're not really new. They're just an older party re-appearing under a different name and different circumstances.
Let me take a conventional look at these five parties. I'll describe them in terms that fit your own party system, the left/right kind of terms.
Let's take the New Democratic Party, the NDP, which won 21 seats. The NDP could be described as basically a party of liberal Democrats, but it's actually worse than that, I have to say. And forgive me jesting again, but the NDP is kind of proof that the Devil lives and interferes in the affairs of men.
This party believes not just in large government and in massive redistributive programs, it's explicitly socialist. On social value issues, it believes the opposite on just about everything that anybody in this room believes. I think that's a pretty safe bet on all social-value kinds of questions.
Some people point out that there is a small element of clergy in the NDP. Yes, this is true. But these are clergy who, while very committed to the church, believe that it made a historic error in adopting Christian theology.
The NDP is also explicitly a branch of the Canadian Labour Congress, which is by far our largest labour group, and explicitly radical.
There are some moderate and conservative labour organizations. They don't belong to that particular organization.
The second party, the Liberal party, is by far the largest party. It won the election. It's also the only party that's competitive in all parts of the country. The Liberal party is our dominant party today, and has been for 100 years. It's governed almost all of the last hundred years, probably about 75 per cent of the time.
It's not what you would call conservative Democrat; I think that's a disappearing kind of breed. But it's certainly moderate Democrat, a type of Clinton-pragmatic Democrat. It's moved in the last few years very much to the right on fiscal and economic concerns, but still believes in government intrusion in the economy where possible, and does, in its majority, believe in fairly liberal social values.
In the last Parliament, it enacted comprehensive gun control, well beyond, I think, anything you have. Now we'll have a national firearms registration system, including all shotguns and rifles. Many other kinds of weapons have been banned. It believes in gay rights, although it's fairly cautious. It's put sexual orientation in the Human Rights Act and will let the courts do the rest.
There is an important caveat to its liberal social values. For historic reasons that I won't get into, the Liberal party gets the votes of most Catholics in the country, including many practising Catholics. It does have a significant Catholic, social-conservative element which occasionally disagrees with these kinds of policy directions. Although I caution you that even this Catholic social conservative element in the Liberal party is often quite liberal on economic issues.
Then there is the Progressive Conservative party, the PC party, which won only 20 seats. Now, the term Progressive Conservative will immediately raise suspicions in all of your minds. It should. It's obviously kind of an oxymoron. But actually, its origin is not progressive in the modern sense. The origin of the term "progressive'' in the name stems from the Progressive Movement in the 1920s, which was similar to that in your own country.
But the Progressive Conservative is very definitely liberal Republican. These are people who are moderately conservative on economic matters, and in the past have been moderately liberal, even sometimes quite liberal on social policy matters.
In fact, before the Reform Party really became a force in the late '80s, early '90s, the leadership of the Conservative party was running the largest deficits in Canadian history. They were in favour of gay rights officially, officially for abortion on demand. Officially -- what else can I say about them? Officially for the entrenchment of our universal, collectivized, health-care system and multicultural policies in the constitution of the country.
At the leadership level anyway, this was a pretty liberal group. This explains one of the reasons why the Reform party has become such a power.
The Reform party is much closer to what you would call conservative Republican, which I'll get to in a minute.
The Bloc Quebecois, which I won't spend much time on, is a strictly Quebec party, strictly among the French-speaking people of Quebec. It is an ethnic separatist party that seeks to make Quebec an independent, sovereign nation.
By and large, the Bloc Quebecois is centre-left in its approach. However, it is primarily an ethnic coalition. It's always had diverse elements. It does have an element that is more on the right of the political spectrum, but that's definitely a minority element.
Let me say a little bit about the Reform party because I want you to be very clear on what the Reform party is and is not.
The Reform party, although described by many of its members, and most of the media, as conservative, and conservative in the American sense, actually describes itself as populist. And that's the term its leader, Preston Manning, uses.
This term is not without significance. The Reform party does stand for direct democracy, which of course many American conservatives do, but also it sees itself as coming from a long tradition of populist parties of Western Canada, not all of which have been conservative.
It also is populist in the very real sense, if I can make American analogies to it -- populist in the sense that the term is sometimes used with Ross Perot.
The Reform party is very much a leader-driven party. It's much more a real party than Mr. Perot's party -- by the way, it existed before Mr. Perot's party. But it's very much leader-driven, very much organized as a personal political vehicle. Although it has much more of a real organization than Mr. Perot does.
But the Reform party only exists federally. It doesn't exist at the provincial level here in Canada. It really exists only because Mr. Manning is pursuing the position of prime minister. It doesn't have a broader political mandate than that yet. Most of its members feel it should, and, in their minds, actually it does.
It also has some Buchananist tendencies. I know there are probably many admirers of Mr. Buchanan here, but I mean that in the sense that there are some anti-market elements in the Reform Party. So far, they haven't been that important, because Mr. Manning is, himself, a fairly orthodox economic conservative.
The predecessor of the Reform party, the Social Credit party, was very much like this. Believing in funny money and control of banking, and a whole bunch of fairly non-conservative economic things.
So there are some non-conservative tendencies in the Reform party, but, that said, the party is clearly the most economically conservative party in the country. It's the closest thing we have to a neo-conservative party in that sense.
It's also the most conservative socially, but it's not a theocon party, to use the term. The Reform party does favour the use of referendums and free votes in Parliament on moral issues and social issues.
The party is led by Preston Manning, who is a committed, evangelical Christian. And the party in recent years has made some reference to family values and to family priorities. It has some policies that are definitely social-conservative, but it's not explicitly so.
Many members are not, the party officially is not, and, frankly, the party has had a great deal of trouble when it's tried to tackle those issues.
Last year, when we had the Liberal government putting the protection of sexual orientation in our Human Rights Act, the Reform Party was opposed to that, but made a terrible mess of the debate. In fact, discredited itself on that issue, not just with the conventional liberal media, but even with many social conservatives by the manner in which it mishandled that.
So the social conservative element exists. Mr. Manning is a Christian, as are most of the party's senior people. But it's not officially part of the party. The party hasn't quite come to terms with how that fits into it.
That's the conventional analysis of the party system.
Let me turn to the non-conventional analysis, because frankly, it's impossible, with just left/right terminology to explain why we would have five parties, or why we would have four parties on the conventional spectrum. Why not just two?
The reason is regional division, which you'll see if you carefully look at a map. Let me draw the United States comparison, a comparison with your history.
The party system that is developing here in Canada is a party system that replicates the antebellum period, the pre-Civil War period of the United States.
That's not to say -- and I would never be quoted as saying -- we're headed to a civil war. But we do have a major secession crisis, obviously of a very different nature than the secession crisis you had in the 1860s. But the dynamics, the political and partisan dynamics of this, are remarkably similar.
The Bloc Quebecois is equivalent to your Southern secessionists, Southern Democrats, states rights activists. The Bloc Quebecois, its 44 seats, come entirely from the province of Quebec. But even more strikingly, they come from ridings, or election districts, almost entirely populated by the descendants of the original European French settlers.
The Liberal party has 26 seats in Quebec. Most of these come from areas where there are heavy concentrations of English, aboriginal or ethnic votes. So the Bloc Quebecois is very much an ethnic party, but it's also a secession party.
In the referendum two years ago, the secessionists won 49 per cent of the vote, 49.5 per cent. So this is a very real crisis. We're looking at another referendum before the turn of the century.
The Progressive Conservative party is very much comparable to the Whigs of the 1850s and 1860s. What is happening to them is very similar to the Whigs. A moderate conservative party, increasingly under stress because of the secession movement, on the one hand, and the reaction to that movement from harder line English Canadians on the other hand.
You may recall that the Whigs, in their dying days, went through a series of metamorphoses. They ended up as what was called the Unionist movement that won some of the border states in your 1860 election.
If you look at the surviving PC support, it's very much concentrated in Atlantic Canada, in the provinces to the east of Quebec. These are very much equivalent to the United States border states. They're weak economically. They have very grim prospects if Quebec separates. These people want a solution at almost any cost. And some of the solutions they propose would be exactly that.
They also have a small percentage of seats in Quebec. These are French-speaking areas that are also more moderate and very concerned about what would happen in a secession crisis.
The Liberal party is very much your northern Democrat, or mainstream Democratic party, a party that is less concessionary to the secessionists than the PCs, but still somewhat concessionary. And they still occupy the mainstream of public opinion in Ontario, which is the big and powerful province, politically and economically, alongside Quebec.
The Reform party is very much a modern manifestation of the Republican movement in Western Canada; the U.S. Republicans started in the western United States. The Reform Party is very resistant to the agenda and the demands of the secessionists, and on a very deep philosophical level.
The goal of the secessionists is to transform our country into two nations, either into two explicitly sovereign countries, or in the case of weaker separatists, into some kind of federation of two equal partners.
The Reform party opposes this on all kinds of grounds, but most important, Reformers are highly resistant philosophically to the idea that we will have an open, modern, multi-ethnic society on one side of the line, and the other society will run on some set of ethnic-special-status principles. This is completely unacceptable, particularly to philosophical conservatives in the Reform party.
The Reform party's strength comes almost entirely from the West. It's become the dominant political force in Western Canada. And it is getting a substantial vote in Ontario. Twenty per cent of the vote in the last two elections. But it has not yet broken through in terms of the number of seats won in Ontario.
This is a very real political spectrum, lining up from the Bloc to reform. You may notice I didn't mention the New Democratic Party. The NDP obviously can't be compared to anything pre-Civil War. But the NDP is not an important player on this issue. Its views are somewhere between the liberals and conservatives. Its main concern, of course, is simply the left-wing agenda to basically disintegrate our society in all kinds of spectrums. So it really doesn't fit in.
But I don't use this comparison of the pre-Civil War lightly. Preston Manning, the leader of the Reform party has spent a lot of time reading about pre-Civil War politics. He compares the Reform party himself to the Republican party of that period. He is very well-read on Abraham Lincoln and a keen follower and admirer of Lincoln.
I know Mr. Manning very well. I would say that next to his own father, who is a prominent Western Canadian politician, Abraham Lincoln has probably had more effect on Mr. Manning's political philosophy than any individual politician.
Obviously, the issue here is not slavery, but the appeasement of ethnic nationalism. For years, we've had this Quebec separatist movement. For years, we elected Quebec prime ministers to deal with that, Quebec prime ministers who were committed federalists who would lead us out of the wilderness. For years, we have given concessions of various kinds of the province of Quebec, political and economic, to make them happier.
This has not worked. The sovereignty movement has continued to rise in prominence. And its demands have continued to increase. It began to hit the wall when what are called the soft separatists and the conventional political establishment got together to put in the constitution something called "a distinct society clause.'' Nobody really knows what it would mean, but it would give the Supreme Court, where Quebec would have a tremendous role in appointment, the power to interpret Quebec's special needs and powers, undefined elsewhere.
This has led to a firewall of resistance across the country. It fuelled the growth of the Reform party. I should even say that the early concessionary people, like Pierre Trudeau, have come out against this. So there's even now an element of the Quebec federalists themselves who will no longer accept this. So you see the syndrome we're in. The separatists continue to make demands. They're a powerful force. They continue to have the bulk of the Canadian political establishment on their side. The two traditional parties, the Liberals and PCs, are both led by Quebecers who favour concessionary strategies. The Reform party is a bastion of resistance to this tendency.
To give you an idea of how divided the country is, not just in Quebec but how divided the country is outside Quebec on this, we had a phenomenon five years ago. This is a real phenomenon; I don't know how much you heard about it.
The establishment came down with a constitutional package which they put to a national referendum. The package included distinct society status for Quebec and some other changes, including some that would just horrify you, putting universal Medicare in our constitution, and feminist rights, and a whole bunch of other things.
What was significant about this was that this constitutional proposal was supported by the entire Canadian political establishment. By all of the major media. By the three largest traditional parties, the PC, Liberal party and NDP. At the time, the Bloc and Reform were very small.
It was supported by big business, very vocally by all of the major CEOs of the country. The leading labour unions all supported it. Complete consensus. And most academics.
And it was defeated. It literally lost the national referendum against a rag-tag opposition consisting of a few dissident conservatives and a few dissident socialists.
This gives you some idea of the split that's taking place in the country.
Canada is, however, a troubled country politically, not socially. This is a country that we like to say works in practice but not in theory.
You can walk around this country without running across very many of these political controversies. I'll end there and take any of your questions. But let me conclude by saying, good luck in your own battles. Let me just remind you of something that's been talked about here. As long as there are exams, there will always be prayer in schools.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Boot Bingo uses common responses from Paul Martin and when you hear one of these response during the leaders debate you cross it off your card. The first player to get five in a row wins.
I suggest the try going for a black out.
You can get the card using the links below or by going directly to the NDP site here.
All files are in PDF format»
Bingo Cards for up to Two Players
Bingo Cards for up to Four Players
Bingo Cards for up to Six Players
Bingo Cards for up to Eight Players
Sunday, December 11, 2005
But Forseth doesn't stop there. Oh no. Giving people the right to legally marry whoever they love is not only causing a moral meltdown, it is also threatening to destroy our economy!
"The family has always been the backbone of prosperity of any country ... we need only look at history to prove that. Does the breakdown of the family in Canada concern me? Yes - greatly!" Forseth writes.
"Traditionally, Canadians are God-loving, family people with traditional values," he continues, apparently believing that only straight folks can create jobs, hold religious beliefs or even have families. - Bill Tieleman, 24 Hours
You may recall Harper in the last election attempted to use "duct" tape on his candidates. They were to say nothing at all on social issues like gay marriage or abortion. It fell apart for Harper in the last 10 days as word got out of a veteran Conservative MP and his words in a documentary on the issue of Gay Marriage. From then Paul Martin frightened Canadians with the specter of Stephen Harper having the Charter of Rights and Freedoms within his dirty little fingers.
That said Martin is no friend of the gay community ether. He would just as soon as left the gay marriage debate alone. He had no real willingness or desire to seek equality for all Canadians. You may recall Martins speech on the issue in the house. He was far more concerned about religious freedom that equality for gays and lesbians.
It was an opportunity in the last election to show there was something behind the bland, what is my agenda, Prime Minister. Can any of you think of one reason Paul Martin wanted to be Prime Minister other than his Daddy did not quite make it there? I expect some Liberal folks will say I am being too harsh. And it is true Martin is better than Harper. But is that a reason to vote for him?
Voting for Martin because you don't want Harper is like kissing your cousin because its more taboo to kiss your sister.
Canada has not had a Prime Minister with less vision since Bennett. In fact if you look at Martin's record as Finance Minister, you would have to admit he was much more right wing and conservative than the dreaded Bennett or heavens above don't strike me down, but with Martin in charge I wonder if having Brian Mulroney wouldn't be better.
So as the Liberals sold us all on the concept of we get rid of the deficit we can reap the rewards. If that was the case why did it take Jack Layton and the NDP MP's to get the first significant dollars into the budget for affordable housing. Martin eliminated funding in 1993. It took to 2004 to start getting it back and then it took Layton to make a budget amendment to get 1.5 billion dollars added this year.
Paul Martin has no vision, a couple of days ago he chastised the Americans for failing on the environment. What a life it must be in Paul Martin's bubble of Liberal ad men. He is drinking his own bath water. Canada has a much worse situation on green house gases vs the United States. While the US is still making more pollutution every year, Canada's green house gas emissions are climbing at twice the rate of growth to the USA.
Martin fired the one Liberal determined to keep the embargo on oil exploration off BC's coast. Why would he do that if he were not set to ease us into drilling for oil. He and BC Premier Gordon Campbell will be out there sipping french Champagne on a German made BC Ferry as they drill the first hole.
No it is convenient for Martin to beat up on the the US bogeyman. It was convenient for Martin to embrace (not too tightly) gay marriage, It is convenient for Martin to sound off on the environment.
It would seem its convenient for Paul Martin. Canadians have a chance this time out to do something different. Choose someone even if you think they cannot win, send a message to both Harper whom many of us agree should never have the job and to Paul Martin, that we are sure your Daddy is proud, now go back to your shipping empire.
That would be convenient for those wanting to end child poverty, increase our commitment to the third world, save Medicare from privatization and clean up the environment
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
The company has been fined $75,000 and has requested two weeks to pay up. Why do they need two weeks to pay up? Did they give too much to the federal Liberals, or are they still paying off the BC Liberals for the BC Rail deal.
“There could be a time where that engine's gonna go over that rail, or whatever hazard that might be in effect at the time, and we're gonna lose a couple crew members.” - Local Vice President Wayne Chorneychuk of the United Transportation Union on derailments. CKNW, December 7, 2005
Chorneychuk was speaking of the recent derailments on the former BC Rail lines. It looks like action has occured. We learn just now that the Federal Minister of Transportation has ordered CN Rail to shorten its trains over the former BC Rail lines. Would the Minister have acted today as he did were it not for the fact CN Rail was in a Criminal court case today and admitting to failing to maintain a bridge that caused the derailment near McBride BC killing two CN workers?
There must be a federal election happening...
Typical of this Gordon Campbell government. They won't be held accountable for anything they do. CN Rail has had two derailments in one day. That is five derailments since they bought BC Rail from the provincial government one of them that killed thousands of fish and forced emergency measures to be implemented to keep people away from the water when a caustic chemical spilled into a river earlier this year.
Falcon, after pressure from the provincial NDP opposition earlier this session of the legislature met with CN Rail and came out of his meeting stating he was pleased CN Rail was doing what was needed and none of us should worry. The words were no sooner out of Falcon's mouth and another derailment occurred.
To date five derailments have happened. Falcon has dodged, argued, ducked in question period. He hasn't been able to shake the relentless NDP questioning and so now a new strategy has evolved. The BC Liberals Falcon is now trying to pass the buck (oddly enough CN Rail CEO is one of the biggest buck givers to the BC Liberals) to the federal government.
Sure the Feds have a responsibility just like they had with Terasan and they failed all British Columbian's. The issues facing BC Rail or the loss of Teresan to the Americans would never have happened were it not for the actions of the Gordon Campbell Government. We owned the railway so we could do something about it but the Liberals sold it. We had a law in place that limited foreign ownership of Teresan but they Liberals changed that.
Kevin Falcon cannot pass this buck. He is the Transportation Minister and trains running on track beds we still own are falling off more often than any six year old kid out along the tracks trying to balance himself shouting, "Daddy quick look!"
Thursday, December 01, 2005
"I will not whip our cabinet." (is that weird or what?)
Stephen Harper is in full election mode. Too get the gay marriage issue out of the way and hopefully forgotten come election day January 23rd, he has raised same-sex marriage before anyone of his candidates can. Well, lets be honest here, he has applied several rolls of duct tape onhis candidates and has people standing by to re apply.
It is clear, no conservative candidate is to refer to this issue other than to state there will be a free vote and then to get onto other issues. This will play well among the religious right, those fundamentalists that have an uncomfortable hold on poor Stephen. He wants so badly to be Prime Minister he is willing to bend over backwards (sorry for unintended visions that come to your head here, YUK) to play to the pipers tune. Now don't get me wrong here, Stephen has many unpleasant thoughts of his own that he shares with the Religious Right folk.
This is the undoing of Stephen Harper and his loose hold on the leadership of a coalition hanging together by a thread. Of course all those religious right folks vote. He has that to hang onto!
What's worse here is that Stephen Harper is not alone. Ralph Reed was in Canada recently, that great American Freedom fighter. Well, he is an American and it seems he believes only straight Americans should enjoy the rights of American life. We have seen the movie Stephen, and we don't like it.
Unlike many American movies this one was not made here. Canadians prefer a little more acceptance, live and let live. You go Stephen Harper. Don't try too hard on this gay marriage thing, it will come up at the end again, as the duct tape runs out.